Crawford pitches second straight shutout as Blackhawks down Canucks


Crawford pitches second straight shutout as Blackhawks down Canucks

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.”

Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy to participate in USA's Stars and Stripes Showdown

In honor of the late executive Jim Johannson, who died unexpectedly in his sleep in January at the age of 53, USA Hockey is hosting a Stars and Stripes Showdown at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan on Sunday, Aug. 26 and three Blackhawks will be participating in it: Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane and Connor Murphy.

Kane served as USA's captain at the 2018 IIHF World Championship in Denmark this past May and set a new American record with 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 10 tournament contests, which earned him MVP honors. DeBrincat had one goal and eight assists while Murphy led USA with a plus-7 rating.

Other star-studded headliners participating: Connor Hellebuyck, Seth Jones, Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews, Charlie McAvoy, Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, James van Riemsdyk and Zach Werenski. It's a great group getting together to celebrate the life of Johannson, who was an instrumental part of USA Hockey's program for the last 18 years.

Tickets are being sold for $10 and $15, which you can purchase here. Doors open at 1 p.m. ET with the game starting at 2 p.m.

A few events that will occur throughout the game: a ceremonial puck drop, a live game-worn jersey auction, an online auction featuring game-worn jerseys and autographed NHL memorabilia, special raffles and an opportunity postgame to meet and greet select players and coaches. All proceeds will benefit both the Jim Johannson Legacy Fund of The USA Hockey Foundation and the Ellie Johannson College Fund.

Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19


Five games to circle: Blackhawks to appear on national TV a league-high 19 times in 2018-19

Despite missing the playoffs for the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks will appear on national television a league-high 19 times during the 2018-19 season, NBC Sports announced on Monday. Eleven of them will appear exclusively on NBC or NBCSN, with the other eight on NBC Sports Chicago in the Chicago area.

Eight of the 19 games will also land on "Wednesday Night Hockey," which will replace "Wednesday Night Rivalry" as part of NBC Sports' most diverse exclusive schedule to date that will include a total of 109 games. 

Here are five games to circle from the 11 games that will be aired exclusively on national TV, in order of how they appear on the schedule:

1. The new-look Blues — Nov. 14 vs. St. Louis at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

There might not have been a team in the Central Division that had a stronger offseason than the Blues. After failing to secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2010-11, they went out a traded for top-six center Ryan O'Reilly, signed Tyler Bozak to ensure even more depth down the middle, and added power forwards Patrick Maroon and David Perron to round out their top-nine. Not to mention the offensively skilled Robby Fabbri will be returning to the lineup after missing the entire 2017-18 campaign with an ACL injury. It'll be a nice early test for the Blackhawks.

2. Three Cups vs. three Cups — Dec. 12 vs. Pittsburgh at 7 p.m. on NBCSN

Whenever the Blackhawks and Penguins get together it's always a fun battle to watch because there's so much firepower sharing the same sheet of ice: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews. That's five future Hall of Famers right there. There's also the fact that they are tied for most Stanley Cups in the salary cap era with three, adding some extra juice between two teams that don't often see each other.

3. Winter Classic — Jan. 1 vs. Boston at 12 p.m. on NBC at Notre Dame Stadium

For the sixth time in franchise history, the Blackhawks will appear in an outdoor game. But they haven't had much luck in those games, losing four of the previous five, including all three of their Winter Classic appearances. The Bruins are 1-1 in outdoor games and will look to break the .500 mark in a rematch of the memorable 2013 Stanley Cup Final — at least for the city of Chicago — and Original Six showdown.

4. The defending champion Capitals come to town — Jan. 20 at 11:30 a.m. on NBC

Any time the reigning champions visit your city, it's a game you know you can't take off. Especially since it's the Game of the Week. Alex Ovechkin fell one goal shy of hitting the 50-goal mark for the eighth time in his NHL career at age 32 last season, but it was still good enough to win his seventh "Rocket" Richard Trophy. More importantly, he scored 15 goals and added 12 assists in 24 postseason contests to help lead the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup and took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player of the playoffs while doing so. He's still the greatest goal scorer in hockey — perhaps even of all time — and that's a reason in and of itself why it's a must-watch, even though in his last game against Chicago he was held without a shot attempt for the first time in his NHL career.

5. Rekindling an old rivalry with Red Wings — Feb. 20 at Detroit at 6:30 p.m. on NBCSN

Ever since the NHL realigned the divisions in 2013-14, the Blackhawks and Red Wings get to see each other only twice per season — once at home and once on the road. No two teams in NHL history have squared off more than these two, so it's certainly been an adjustment. But fans know how deep this rivalry goes, and every time they do clash, there's a playoff-like atmosphere in the building and you can feel it through your television screen as well. This will likely be no different.

Check out the Blackhawks' full national television schedule here: