Five Things from Game 4: Blackhawks all evened up


Five Things from Game 4: Blackhawks all evened up

The Blackhawks won’t list Game 4 among their best performances, because it wasn’t.

The start was slow. The end was furious. The middle was all right. But once again the Blackhawks, pretty outing or ugly one, found a way to win. Thanks to Brandon Saad’s early third-period goal and Corey Crawford’s overall performance, the Blackhawks head back to Tampa tied 2-2 in the Stanley Cup Final. Hey, however you get there, right?

So before we pack up for the night, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

1. Saad strikes again. We keep talking about how much money Saad is earning this postseason. Well, he’s adding to it. His backhander at 6:22 of the third period gave the Blackhawks the lead and this time they didn’t lose it. Saad continues to impress, be it the teammates he’s had for a few seasons now or the ones who just joined the team this offseason. “It looks like he’s just out for a Sunday stroll sometimes,” Brad Richards said. “He’s three strides and he’s beating people down the ice."

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

2. Hello, Andrei Vasilevskiy. You could imagine everyone’s surprise when the Lightning’s young backup goaltender led his team onto the ice for warm-ups. Of course you can – you were surprised, too. The Blackhawks were apparently so surprised they couldn’t get a shot on the Russian until more than eight minutes elapsed in the first period. Coach Jon Cooper said Ben Bishop, who’s dealing with an undisclosed injury, will play again in this series. He’s just not sure when. But Vasilevskiy played well. Regardless of goalie, however, the Blackhawks need to bring more against him.

3. Line-changing fun. Coach Joel Quenneville’s line combinations were different, that’s for sure. He was looking for balance, he was looking for more offensive production and he was looking for better team defense. Well, he got the last one, for sure. We’re not sure these line changes were the best we’ve ever seen but, welcome to the postseason, where everyone’s trying to outwit or surprise the opposition. As Quenneville said about postseason surprises, “we were expecting their other goalie in the net tonight, too, so I guess it’s 50-50.”

[MORE: Vince Vaughn likes Blackhawks' chances: 'Chicago has a lot of heart']

4. Johnny Oduya hangs in there. Speaking of guys struggling with an injury, there’s no doubt Oduya’s doing that. He was favoring his left arm/wrist/hand late in Game 3 and that was apparent again tonight. But that didn’t stop him from having a great game. Oduya played nearly 26 minutes and, along with Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks in blocked shots with five.

5. Gas left in the tank? The Blackhawks pulled this one out but you have to wonder how much they left in the tank. Is all the hockey and the physical series against Anaheim catching up to them? Hey, they found a way to tie this series, and we’ve seen this movie before: doubting the Blackhawks isn’t a wise move. Still, you wonder if the energy is dwindling.

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: