Complacency. It can be dangerous, especially in sports.
Corey Crawford admitted he got complacent for a few games this season. He wasn’t sharp. He was allowing goals that were costing the Blackhawks games. But lately, he’s gotten back to where he was at the start of the season. So have his results.
Crawford stopped all 30 shots he saw for his second consecutive shutout and Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 26 consecutive games as the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0, on Sunday night. Duncan Keith’s power-play goal in the first period proved to be the game winner. Dennis Rasmussen scored his second goal in his four games here, and Andrew Shaw, on an empty net, scored his fifth of the season. Brandon Mashinter scored his first career NHL goal with 9.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
Kane’s point streak, which came from his secondary assist on Keith’s goal, gives him the longest point streak of any active NHL player.
For the Blackhawks, who have won four of their last five games, it was another solid home victory. For Crawford, it was his fourth shutout of the season and another outstanding game.
“I kind of had that in the beginning of the year, then I got a little complacent,” said Crawford, who added he fought through the complacency. “Just keep battling, stay with it. It ... wasn’t full 60-minute games before. I’m just trying to pay attention, be focused all game.”
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Crawford needed to be again in this one against the Canucks, who scored on Crawford five times in their Nov. 21 meeting. On Sunday, Crawford was ready for everything from a Canucks team that had some prime scoring opportunities.
“He looks composed, square, solid, anticipating, quick, very efficient, rebound control in order. He made some nice plays with the puck as well, alleviating the fore-check pressure,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Real good, fun to watch.”
The Blackhawks clung to a 1-0 lead until midway through the third period. Bryan Bickell’s shot was headed to the net, and Rasmussen pushed it over to make sure for a 2-0 lead at 11:36. While it was nearly Bickell’s first goal of the season, it was nevertheless his first assist of the season.
“I felt a little bad when I saw the replay. My instincts just took me there, and I played the puck,” Rasmussen said. “I didn’t know if I had a guy on my back. I just wanted to make sure it was in. But when I saw the replay, I wished I’d just let that puck goal so Bicksie could have scored.”
Shaw and Mashinter added their goals in the final 31 seconds of regulation. The Blackhawks have got a nice formula going right now. Their power play is working, as is their penalty kill. They’re getting more balance on their lines. And their goaltending is back to being anything but complacent.
“He looks ready. His quickness and anticipation, focus, following the puck, he’s been tracking it real nice,” Quenneville said of Crawford. “It looks like it’s going to be tough to beat him.”