Shortly after 5:50 p.m., Corey Crawford made his first save of Sunday night.
About two and a half hours later, Crawford made his 48th and final save, completing one of the most miraculous goaltending performances of his career.
Crawford’s heroics helped the Blackhawks eke out a 3-1 Game 4 win over the Golden Knights. And because of it, Crawford and the Hawks went to sleep later in Edmonton with their season still technically alive.
“It’s as good as he’s ever been,” Duncan Keith said. “I don’t know what the shots were, but they had a lot of shots, and he made himself big every time. Wasn’t a whole lot of rebounds laying around, either. That was a big part of that. He was our best player tonight.”
Keith was correct on two counts: Crawford was absolutely the Hawks’ best player, and there were a lot — a nearly unfathomable amount, actually — of shots.
The Knights out-attempted the Hawks 94-45, out-shot the Hawks 49-25 and out-chanced the Hawks 41-14 in the game.
Those are all numbers one would normally only see in a video game, and on beginner difficulty at that. The 94 shot attempts tied for the most the Hawks have allowed in a regulation game since at least 2007, the start of Natural Stat Trick’s shot attempt data. The scoring chance ratio was the sixth-worst by any NHL team in any game, regular or post-season, this year.
“When they’ve been better than us, they’ve been way better than us,” coach Jeremy Colliton said. “That’s a big reason [for] the discrepancy in the chances and the shots... We’ve got to do a better job of, when they’re better than us, weathering the storm and giving up a little bit less.”
On the offensive end, there were a few bright spots: Olli Maatta and Matthew Highmore continued their unexpected offensive surges, and Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat (albeit on an empty-netter) finally scored their first goals of the 2020 playoffs.
Other than that, though, Crawford stole the win for the Hawks.
“He was outstanding,” Highmore said. “He made countless saves, whether it be rebound chances, slot shots, backdoor. He was great for us, just settling us down back there. He was just fantastic.”
His 48 saves tied for his most ever in a regulation game and were his outright most ever in a regulation playoff game, breaking the record he just set in Game 4 against the Oilers.
His most highlight-reel robberies included a pair of stops on a William Carrier rush in the first period, a goal-line save with his mask on William Karlsson in the third period and a back-door glove snare on Zach Whitecloud later in the third. By the final minutes, the Hawks seemed certain to win simply because Crawford seemed certain to stop anything and everything he faced.
Crawford, characteristically, deferred most of the credit to his defense after the game. But he was named the game’s simultaneous first, second and third star on the NBC Sports Chicago broadcast for a reason.
“For the most part, we kept them to the outside when they did have those looks where they had maybe a second or two to hold it and shoot,” Crawford said. “It really wasn’t coming from the middle. That helps me a lot to be on the angle and give up less net.”
Keith, asked about the defensive performance, put it better: “It’s always good when Corey’s making those types of saves.”
As a result, the Hawks will, rather incredibly, return to Rogers Place on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. CT for Game 5.
They have one man, and one man alone, to thank for that privilege.