ST. PAUL, Minn. — Corey Crawford was over the first round when the first round was over.
He said he moved on from the ups and downs he had that series. He was focused on the second round, on the Minnesota Wild. On Tuesday night, his focus and performance kept the Wild off the score sheet.
Crawford stopped all 30 shots he faced for his fourth career postseason shutout and Patrick Kane had the game-winner as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 1-0 on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks take a commanding 3-0 lead in this second-round series, which continues with Game 4 here on Thursday night.
It’s the first time the Blackhawks have won a road Game 3 since the Western Conference Semifinals in 2010 (vs. the Vancouver Canucks). It’s the second time this postseason that they’ve won the opening road game in a series. The Blackhawks are now 29-0-0 when leading after the second period.
All of that was in large part thanks to Crawford, who was strong against a Wild team that was pushing, especially in the second and third periods. Crawford, who’s had his issues with rebounds, gave up minimal second chances on Tuesday.
“It was a great game for him, a goalie win,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s one of those games from the outset that he needed to be strong. He made some key stops, particularly in the second period and around the net in the third. They go hard to the net but he really held his ground. He was very effective with his rebound control as well. Big night for him and for us.”
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Two nights ago Crawford took a Jared Spurgeon shot off his mask. He looked woozy at the time but said afterward he was fine. Two nights later, he certainly looked all right. His focus was there, from the power-play stops to the Wild’s breakaway chances.
“You’ve got to stay focused every game in the playoffs. Every bounce could be a goal that matters,” Crawford said. “Throughout the whole thing I thought our D were great. I was able to see all those shots and they were clearing stuff after. It’s a great job by our guys.”
On the offensive side of things, the Blackhawks didn’t generate a whole lot. They got what they needed, however, and it came on their only power play of the night. Patrick Sharp’s pass into the Wild’s zone didn’t have as much on it as he would’ve liked, but Andrew Shaw got to it and pushed it to Kane, who beat Devan Dubnyk five-hole for the 1-0 lead.
“I know, the puck was bouncing there,” Kane said. “I think Sharpie was trying to come over to me. It got to Shawzie and I think he said he heard me calling for it, so he just kind of threw it over and I got it and tried to shoot it quickly.”
Crawford and the Blackhawks’ defense did the rest, as did the penalty kill. After having a rough first round itself, the kill went 3-for-3 tonight.
“Well, we’re happy for him,” Duncan Keith said. “At the same time, you know, whether it’s a loss or a win, it’s a team game. It’s not one guy in the room. Crow was certainly great tonight and kept us in it in certain little flurries throughout the game, but everyone was good tonight, and that’s the type of goaltending and team play you need this time of year.”
The Blackhawks defense is looking more like itself again. That includes Crawford, whose second-round outings are vindication for a first round that’s no longer on his mind.
“It’s never easy, especially against this team in their building. They came hard the whole night but our guys stood strong, especially at the end we were all together as a unit,” Crawford said. “That was good for myself, but as a team, too, it was great for us defensively to have no goals in a game.”