The Chicago Blackhawks offered a vigorous challenge to the Vegas Golden Knights in a must-win Game 5 on Tuesday, but they came up short in a 4-3 loss that ended their improbable run in the Edmonton, Alberta, bubble.
The 12th-seeded Hawks earned the right to enter the best-of-seven first-round series against the top-seeded Knights with a surprising series win against the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round. The Hawks then dropped the first three games to the Knights but won Game 4 on Sunday to force Game 5.
Neither team was particularly effective defensively through the first two periods, during which the Golden Knights had 10 high-danger chances and the Hawks seven.
Similar to Game 4, Vegas controlled the puck and outshot the Hawks 28-19 through two periods. But also similar to Game 4, the Hawks and goaltender Corey Crawford managed to foil several good looks for the Knights. The Hawks blocked 11 shots through two periods.
But the Golden Knights tightened up in the third, holding the Hawks to four shots on goal.
In what seemed to be a recurring theme, the Golden Knights caught the Hawks in the middle of a change, and Alex Tuch knocked in his own rebound early in the third for a 4-3 lead.
Vegas came close to adding another goal on a three-on-one rush, but Chandler Stephenson shot wide of the net. The Golden Knights had another would-be goal overturned for goalie interference.
The Hawks pulled Crawford for a sixth attacker with 1 minute, 14 seconds left.
For the second consecutive game, the Hawks scored first when Jonathan Toews stuffed in a rebound off Dominik Kubalik's shot at the 10:32 mark of the first. The Hawks' second goal was about their prettiest of postseason.
On the rush, Brandon Saad put on the brakes and dropped a pass past Nicolas Roy to Connor Murphy, who put a spin-o-rama move on Roy and dished to Dylan Strome in the circle, forcing goaltender Robin Lehner to cover his stick side.