Corey Crawford kept his cool, even when he lost his stick.
The Blackhawks goaltender was part of a wild 30-second sequence early in the second period of Game 2, in which he lost and regained his stick, made five stops against the St. Louis Blues and drew a “Corey” chant from the United Center crowd.
“That was a crazy scramble,” he said following Game 3. “Just trying to find the puck in that instance.”
Crawford has found the puck in front of him more than behind him so far in this series, stopping 79 of the 85 shots he’s faced in the three games. His work in Game 2 gave him 46 career postseason victories, pushing him past Tony Esposito for the most in Blackhawks history. His work is also giving the Blackhawks playing in front of him peace of mind.
“Anytime you have a goalie like Corey in net, I think it gives our whole team confidence,” Duncan Keith said. “He made some big saves in the second period where we had some chances, and they came down and had a few high-quality chances. He made those saves to keep the game the way it was. When he's making those saves, it gives you confidence knowing – I don't want to take those extra chances because that's not what we do – that you can play with that confidence that he will be there to make a save when needed.”
There was some question as to whether or not Crawford would be ready for the postseason at all. Crawford suffered an upper-body injury in mid-March and was sidelined for more than three weeks. He played in the Blackhawks’ regular-season finale in Columbus. While that game had its ups and downs – Crawford said he was getting used to game speed again – getting that game in before the playoffs turned out to be helpful.
“I thought he practiced well going into the series, back-to-back games he did a great job being ready and doing what we had to do,” coach Joel Quenneville said after Crawford won Game 2. “He looked sharp, quick, handled the puck well, exactly what you want.”
As the regular season ended, Crawford said he’d be ready for the postseason. The first three games, he certainly has been.
“It always takes a little bit of time to get back in the routines and game shape after you’ve been out for a while. But Crow is, he’s a gamer and he likes to compete and that’s what it’s all about in the playoffs,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “He’s one of those guys that really enjoys playoff hockey and big moments. He always rises to the occasion, so I’m not too surprised, but it’s impressive to see how fast he’s come back.”