Crawford, Blackhawks shut out Wild in Game 3


Crawford, Blackhawks shut out Wild in Game 3

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.”

[SHOP: Get a Corey Crawford jersey here]

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.”

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 3 win over Sharks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 3 win over Sharks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

The Blackhawks would've been happy with one win in San Jose, but they got two going back to Chicago and built on that momentum by knocking off the Sharks 3-2 in overtime to go up 3-0 in the Western Conference Final. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Dustin Byfuglien's heroics

As tight as the first two games were, the Blackhawks faced their first real adversity of the series in Game 3 when they went up 2-1 late in the third period and gave up the tying goal 2:32 later as the Sharks forced overtime.

But then Big Buff did what he did best.

With 7:36 remaining in overtime, Byfuglien buried a pass in the slot, going top shelf before Evgeni Nabokov even realized where the puck was. And then Byfuglien celebrated the only way he knows how.

2. Dave Bolland was a force

Speaking of the game-winning overtime goal, what an incredible pass by Bolland to set that up. The Rat had an incredible third period and overtime, scoring the go-ahead goal with 6:55 left in regulation by getting past a couple of Sharks defenders and juking Nabokov.

3. A negated early goal

The Sharks were in a virtual must-win situation going into Game 3 after dropping their first two contests at home, and they thought they struck first in the opening 1:51 with a power-play goal. But after further review, the officials ruled that Joe Pavelski kicked the puck into the net and the call was overturned.

The Sharks scored the game's first goal anyways, but it didn't come until the 3:58 mark of the second period. You wonder how much life the negated goal would've given them and how it would've changed the complexion of the game had it counted.

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: Finishing the NHL regular season 'may not be possible'

USA Today

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Finishing the NHL regular season 'may not be possible'

Laurence Holmes, Nick Gismondi and Mark Potash join Kap on the panel.

0:00- MLB and the players have discussed starting the baseball season in May with all games being played in Arizona. Is this a good idea? Is this even feasible?

6:00- Gary Bettman says completing the NHL regular season may not be possible.

8:20- John Paxson is reportedly willing to step down from the Bulls organization if the new front office executives want him to.

14:00- Adam Silver says the NBA will wait until at least May to discuss what happens with the rest of its season.

16:00- Kap and Mark reminisce about covering newly - elected Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett in his high school days.

19:00- Could the unusual pre-draft schedule prevent NFL teams from suffering paralysis by analysis?

23:00- USA Today's Bob Nightengale joins Kap to talk about the possibility of baseball playing its season in Arizona and whether players would agree to do it.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Sports Talk Live Podcast