Blackhawks

Blackhawks net six, destroy Blue Jackets

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Blackhawks net six, destroy Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio If the Blackhawks want to string a few victories together after that awful losing streak, theyre going to need their best players to be just that.

On Saturday afternoon they were.

Top liners Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane combined for eight points and Corey Crawford stopped 34 of 35 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-1 at Nationwide Arena on Saturday afternoon. The Blackhawks won their second in a row and now have 69 points, just three points behind fifth-place Nashville.

The Blackhawks werent exactly a well-running machine all game; got off to a ragged start, trailing 1-0 when Derick Brassard scored off a Sami Lepisto turnover. But a cleaner game, a great goaltending performance and six unanswered goals later, the Blackhawks were wrapping up this grueling nine-game road trip on a positive note.

We had the low start and Toews had that nice goal to get us going. We played better the rest of the first period after that, said Duncan Keith, who had an assist and was a plus-4. We were able to make some nice plays and capitalize. But I still think defensively, were working on things.

Perhaps. But if the Blackhawks had a lapse on Saturday their goaltending came through for them. Crawford played one of his best games in some time, stopping everything after Brassards first-period goal.

He was huge, Sharp said of Crawford. Its a tough position: you take heat when you lose and get credit when you win. He was solid back there, really a staple in the defensive scheme.

Crawford said hes felt better about his game these last two starts.

Ive slowed things down, Crawford said. Im not moving around as much, Im being patient and reading the play a little bit better. Our guys are getting in shooting lanes, too.

With Crawford shoring up one end, the Blackhawks top line went to work at the other. Toews driving goal in the first period tied things up he also had two assists later -- and the Blackhawks never looked back. Sharp had a goal and two assists and Kane had an assist and his 13th goal of the season.

We worked hard, stayed patient and we knew the chances were going to come, Toews said. Consistently over 60 minutes we got those chances and those goals.

Viktor Stalbergs goal was his eighth against Columbus this season. Lepisto, who was benched for quite a while after that early turnover, came back to score his first goal in a Blackhawks uniform.

The Blackhawks didnt finish this road trip playing the perfect game. But considering how rough the first seven games of it were, they just needed to get some victories and get some confidence back, from goaltending on out.

Now they need to bring that home again, starting against a tough St. Louis Blues team. The confines get more familiar, but the schedule wont get easier.

Its been a long trip, coach Joel Quenneville said. Its going to be a quick morning, too.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Corey Crawford is BACK, are the Bulls legitimate playoff contenders?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Corey Crawford is BACK, are the Bulls legitimate playoff contenders?

Mark Lazerus and Hub Arkush join David Kaplan on the panel.

The guys discuss Corey Crawford’s return and what it means for the team’s playoff chances.

Khalil Mack misses practice again. The guys debate if it would be better to leave him out vs. the Patriots.

The latest on the MLB playoffs with controversy in Houston and gamesmanship by the Brewers.

Will Perdue and Kendall Gill join the panel to discuss Kris Dunn’s absence from the opener and the team’s playoff chances this season.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below.

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Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford was officially activated from injured reserve on Thursday and will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes.

"It’s exciting," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks have assigned forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.