It was all Blackhawks in the first period Wednesday night at the Rogers Place. Two nights after being shutout in the last period of Game 2, Chicago came out ready to play in Game 3. Olli Maatta got things going for the Hawks midway through the period with a slapshot from just over the blue line following the setup from Patrick Kane and a great screen set up by Kirby Dach in front of the goalie to take the 1-0 lead. It was the first time Chicago had led since the end of Game 1. Not even a minute later, Leon Draisaitl netted his second goal of the series to tie the game for the Oilers at 1. To finish the first period, the Blackhawks managed one more goal with just 4.2 seconds left before intermission following a puck reflection off the skate of captain, Jonathan Toews.
The back-to-back points leaders from the 2019-2020 NHL regular season, Draisaitl and Connor McDavid would do the only scoring in the second period. McDavid’s goal once again coming on the Oilers ability to capitalize on the power play, and Edmonton ended the second period leading 3-2. Toews just barely missed out on his second goal of the night about midway through the third after the puck deflected off the goal post, and the Oilers would be lucky enough to keep their lead until late in the period.
With just under six minutes left to play, Matthew Highmore would score his first goal of the series following a slapshot that sailed over the shoulder of Oilers goalie, Mikko Koskinen, and Chicago would even the score at 3-3. Finally, with 1:16 left to play, Toews was able to win the face-off deep in Edmonton’s zone, make the pass back to Dominik Kubalik, who would then pass the puck along to veteran Duncan Keith, who would then dish it off to Connor Murphy, who would finally shoot the puck towards the net to an awaiting Jonathan Toews, who managed to successfully tip the puck in between the legs of Koskinen. The Blackhawks would hold on to their new 4-3 lead, and claim Game 3 for Chicago.
When asked of Toews’ game winning goal, Murphy told David Satriano of NHL.com, “Just a lucky bounce, I didn’t throw a very hard one at the net, I saw [Toews] had good position. He was all alone in front to be able to get a tip on it, so it ended up. I thought for sure he got it. Those last minutes in games, every face-off is so huge, and obviously that one being a big one for us being able to get a shot off.”
Chicago was able to limit the Oilers’ chances to capitalize on their mistakes for the first time all series. Being beaten in Game 2 on the power play, and allowing the majority of goals in Game 1 while at a disadvantage, Chicago limited Edmonton to only three power play opportunities, allowing a goal on only one. This was the least amount of power play chances the Oilers have had in three games. As for Chicago, they had a man advantage six times, but only managed one goal from Toews late in the first period.
As the Blackhawks prepare for Game 4, and a chance to advance from the Stanley Cup Qualifying Round, the Blackhawks’ captain told Satriano, “A five-game series is definitely different… But you always know even in a seven-game series, Games 3-4 are always the toughest to play and how to prepare for those big games… Knowing that every game in the series has gotten tougher, [Game 4’s] going to be the toughest game coming up.” Chicago coach, Jeremy Colliton said, “We’ll enjoy it for tonight and on to the next one. We’ve got to expect a desperate team in Game 4, and we have to respond ourselves.”
The Blackhawks now lead the series 2-1, and will prepare to potentially eliminate the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 on Friday (8/7) at 6:45pm EST. Chicago looks to win their first postseason series since 2015 when they won the Stanley Cup in a six game series over the Tampa Bay Lightning.