Corey Crawford usually likes games in which he’s busy. Well, he didn’t have much quiet time on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators, and a busy Crawford was a successful Crawford.
Crawford stopped 36 of 37 shots and Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 23 games with the 600th point of his career as the Blackhawks beat the Predators, 4-1, at the United Center.
Dennis Rasmussen, playing in his first NHL game, scored his first career goal on his first career shot. Andrew Shaw and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist. Niklas Hjalmarsson had two assists.
The Blackhawks got the goals in the third period, but it was Crawford keeping things steady, especially through the first two periods.
“Yeah, I got in a groove early, saw the puck really well all game and our defensemen, again, were eliminating second chances,” Crawford said. “That makes the goalie’s job so much easier when you only have to stop the first one.”
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Coach Joel Quenneville called Crawford’s outing, “spectacular.”
“He was great,” he said. “We gave up high-quality (chances) tonight. We haven’t given up that kind of quality all year. First period he kept us in there, great in the second and big saves in the third, and all alone on a lot of them, which is unusual for us.”
The Blackhawks are starting to get more balance among their lines. They’re also started to get scoring from people other than Kane, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin. Rasmussen gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with another thing the team needs: net-front-presence goals.
Shaw, who had one of his best games of the season, put the Blackhawks up 2-0 with a power-play goal in the second period. Eric Nystrom gave the Predators their only goal with less than a minute remaining in the second, a shot that went off his skate — but wasn’t kicked in — to cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1.
Then came the Blackhawks’ third-period push beginning with Teravainen, who scored just 14 seconds into the third for a 3-1 lead. It was the second consecutive game Teravainen’s scored an early third-period goal — he scored 21 seconds into the third against Winnipeg on Sunday.
“Good ice. I like to shoot with the good ice in the first part of the period,” he said. “I was still trying to look for the pass first but I had nothing, so I tried to shoot.”
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Then came the empty-net goal for Kane, who Quenneville put out there late for a chance to extend his point streak.
“To be honest with you, I wasn’t thinking about it too much until you go out there in the end there and you hear the crowd cheering and you know they’re looking for something,” Kane said. “That’s when you want to get something at the end.”
The Blackhawks are starting to gain some traction. Their lines look better. They’re getting more balanced scoring. But on Tuesday, it was mainly Crawford’s show.
“I felt pretty good, made a few key saves at key points in the game,” Crawford said. “I just try to build off every game and stay as consistent as I can.”