Crawford, Blackhawks shut out Wild in Game 3


Crawford, Blackhawks shut out Wild in Game 3

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Corey Crawford was over the first round when the first round was over.

He said he moved on from the ups and downs he had that series. He was focused on the second round, on the Minnesota Wild. On Tuesday night, his focus and performance kept the Wild off the score sheet.

Crawford stopped all 30 shots he faced for his fourth career postseason shutout and Patrick Kane had the game-winner as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 1-0 on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks take a commanding 3-0 lead in this second-round series, which continues with Game 4 here on Thursday night.

It’s the first time the Blackhawks have won a road Game 3 since the Western Conference Semifinals in 2010 (vs. the Vancouver Canucks). It’s the second time this postseason that they’ve won the opening road game in a series. The Blackhawks are now 29-0-0 when leading after the second period.

All of that was in large part thanks to Crawford, who was strong against a Wild team that was pushing, especially in the second and third periods. Crawford, who’s had his issues with rebounds, gave up minimal second chances on Tuesday.

“It was a great game for him, a goalie win,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s one of those games from the outset that he needed to be strong. He made some key stops, particularly in the second period and around the net in the third. They go hard to the net but he really held his ground. He was very effective with his rebound control as well. Big night for him and for us.”

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Two nights ago Crawford took a Jared Spurgeon shot off his mask. He looked woozy at the time but said afterward he was fine. Two nights later, he certainly looked all right. His focus was there, from the power-play stops to the Wild’s breakaway chances.

“You’ve got to stay focused every game in the playoffs. Every bounce could be a goal that matters,” Crawford said. “Throughout the whole thing I thought our D were great. I was able to see all those shots and they were clearing stuff after. It’s a great job by our guys.”

On the offensive side of things, the Blackhawks didn’t generate a whole lot. They got what they needed, however, and it came on their only power play of the night. Patrick Sharp’s pass into the Wild’s zone didn’t have as much on it as he would’ve liked, but Andrew Shaw got to it and pushed it to Kane, who beat Devan Dubnyk five-hole for the 1-0 lead.

“I know, the puck was bouncing there,” Kane said. “I think Sharpie was trying to come over to me. It got to Shawzie and I think he said he heard me calling for it, so he just kind of threw it over and I got it and tried to shoot it quickly.”

Crawford and the Blackhawks’ defense did the rest, as did the penalty kill. After having a rough first round itself, the kill went 3-for-3 tonight. 

“Well, we’re happy for him,” Duncan Keith said. “At the same time, you know, whether it’s a loss or a win, it’s a team game. It’s not one guy in the room. Crow was certainly great tonight and kept us in it in certain little flurries throughout the game, but everyone was good tonight, and that’s the type of goaltending and team play you need this time of year.”

The Blackhawks defense is looking more like itself again. That includes Crawford, whose second-round outings are vindication for a first round that’s no longer on his mind. 

“It’s never easy, especially against this team in their building. They came hard the whole night but our guys stood strong, especially at the end we were all together as a unit,” Crawford said. “That was good for myself, but as a team, too, it was great for us defensively to have no goals in a game.”

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'


Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?