Corey Crawford stellar as Blackhawks beat Predators


Corey Crawford stellar as Blackhawks beat Predators

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.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Patrick Kane extends point streak with empty-netter]

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.”

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

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.”

Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning


Four takeaways: Blackhawks on wrong side of history in loss to Lightning

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Sunday:

1. Blackhawks on wrong side of history 

Earlier this year the Blackhawks made history by appearing in five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team in NBA, NFL, NHL or MLB history has ever done.

But Sunday they found themselves on the wrong side of it after allowing 33 shots on goal in the second period alone. It tied a franchise high for most given up in a single period — March 4, 1941 vs. Boston — and is the most an NHL team has allowed since 1997-98 when shots by period became an official stat.

"It's pretty rare to be seeing that much work in a period," said Cam Ward, who had a season-high 49 saves. "But oh man, I don't even know what to say to be honest. It's tough. We know that we need to be better especially in our home building, too. And play with some pride and passion. Unfortunately, it seemed like it was lacking at times tonight. The old cliche you lose as a team and overall as a team we weren't good enough tonight."

Said coach Joel Quenneville: "That was a tough, tough period in all aspects. I don’t think we touched the puck at all and that was the part that was disturbing, against a good hockey team."

2. Alexandre Fortin is on the board

After thinking he scored his first career NHL goal in Columbus only to realize his shot went off Marcus Kruger's shin-pad, Fortin made up for it one night later and knows there wasn't any question about this one.

The 21-year-old undrafted forward, playing in his his fifth career game, sprung loose for a breakaway early in the first period and received a terrific stretch pass by Jan Rutta from his own goal line to Fortin, who slid it underneath Louis Domingue for his first in the big leagues. It's his second straight game appearing on the scoresheet after recording an assist against the Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"It's fun," Fortin said. "I think it would be a little bit more fun to get your first goal [while getting] two points for your team, but I think we ... just have to [turn the page to the] next chapter and just play and be ready for next game."

3. Brandon Saad's most noticeable game?

There weren't many positives to take away from this game, but Saad was certainly one of them. He had arguably his best game of the season, recording seven shot attempts (three on goal) with two of them hitting the post (one while the Blackhawks were shorthanded).

He was on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and five against at 5-on-5, which was by far the best on his team.

"He started OK and got way better," Quenneville said of Saad. "Had the puck way more, took it to the net a couple of times, shorthanded."

4. Special teams still a work in progress

The Blackhawks entered Sunday with the 29th-ranked power play and 25th-ranked penalty kill, and are still working to get out from the bottom of the league in both departments. In an effort to change up their fortunes with the man advantage, the Blackhawks split up their two units for more balance.

They had four power-play opportunities against Tampa Bay and cashed in on one of them, but it didn't matter as it was too little, too late in the third period — although they did become the first team to score a power-play goal against the Lightning this season (29 chances).

"Whether we're looking for balance or we're just looking for one to get hot, I think our power play has been ordinary so far," Quenneville said before the game. "We need it to be more of a threat."

Four more minor penalties were committed by the Blackhawks, giving them eight in the past two games. That's one way they can shore up the penalty kill, by cutting back on taking them.

Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period


Blackhawks tie franchise record for shots on goal allowed in one period

Well, things could be going better for the Blackhawks during Sunday's game against the Lightning.

In the second period Sunday, the Blackhawks surrendered 33 shots on goal, tying a franchise record for most in a single period. The previous instance occurred March 4, 1941 against the Boston Bruins, a game that the Blackhawks lost 3-2.

While the Blackhawks tied a franchise record for shots on goal allowed, they actually set an NHL record at the same time. The NHL did not begin recording shots on goal as an "official" statistic until the 1997-98 season.

Consequentially, Sunday's 33 shots on goal allowed in the second period is the "official" record, even though the Blackhawks accomplished the "feat" nearly 80 years ago. Confusing, huh? 

Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, they also surrendered three goals and scored zero in addition to the plethora of shots on goal allowed. They recorded just six shots on goal in the second period themselves, trailing 4-1 by the time the third period started.