After Corey Crawford allowed just one goal against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday, he said he’s felt better every game.
He apparently felt fantastic on Thursday night.
Crawford recorded his second shutout in his past three games, stopping all 38 shots he saw, and Marian Hossa scored twice in the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Blackhawks won their fourth consecutive game and have points in their last six (5-0-1). Jonathan Toews scored his second goal of the season, which proved to be the game winner.
Artem Anisimov had the secondary assist on Hossa’s goal, extending his career-best, nine-game point streak. Duncan Keith had two assists. Artemi Panarin scored his fifth of the season with 7:20 remaining in regulation.
It was another stellar night for Crawford, who has now stopped 103 of the 104 shots he’s seen in his past three games. He was once again tested early and often, but held up under the pressure as the Blackhawks were outshot 11-1 in the first 12 minutes, 47 seconds of the game.
“He’s been outstanding,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Again tonight, the first period comparable to the last few first periods we’ve seen, where he’s kept us in the game and we’ve had opportunistic scoring and put ourselves in a good spot. but single-handedly there, he made some big, big saves.”
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It has become a trend for the Blackhawks: struggle and get outshot badly early, then come back with a flourish. Tonight it was two goals in 38 seconds, first by Toews (a rebound off Keith’s shot) and Hossa’s first of the night. And just like that, the Blackhawks were in control.
Crawford again came up big late in the second period, when the Avalanche again pushed the pace and brought a flurry of shots.
“I was just trying to track the puck,” Crawford said. “Our [defensemen] are doing a good job of being on the side of the net, clearing stuff and taking away options on the side there. I just have to try to find the puck from the blue line and our guys are doing a great job with that on the rebounds.”
Hossa scored his second of the night, splitting two Avalanche defensemen off a great pass from Keith, for a 3-0 lead 55 seconds into the third period. Hossa, who certainly benefited from a rare long offseason, has five goals through his first 10 games.
“You know, sometimes when the puck goes in for you early you’re more relaxed. You don’t force things. Right now I think that’s what’s happening,” Hossa said. “I’m playing with two great players (Anisimov and Panarin). Find the open area and those guys can find you. Things are clicking.”
The Blackhawks are sort of clicking, too. Those starts are still an issue; the Blackhawks are not going to be able to win every game they’re slow out of the game. But right now they’re getting what they need from their top six forwards, and getting a ton from their goaltender.