Blackhawks

LIVE: Blackhawks, Coyotes need shootout tied at 3

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LIVE: Blackhawks, Coyotes need shootout tied at 3

Sunday Feb. 27, 2011
11:00 a.m.

Associated Press
Things are looking a bit better for the Chicago Blackhawks, but they're far from feeling relaxed.

The Blackhawks look to continue their playoff push and win four straight for the first time in two months Sunday night when they host a Phoenix Coyotes team trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since early November.

After being four points out of eighth place in the Western Conference following a loss to Columbus last Friday, Chicago (32-23-6) has reeled off three straight wins to pull within one point of the final playoff spot.

"It's all up to us what we do with it," defenseman Duncan Keith said after Thursday's 3-0 victory over Nashville.

Center Patrick Sharp and goaltender Corey Crawford again led the way for Chicago on Thursday.

Sharp had a goal and an assist, giving him four goals and three assists in his last four games. Crawford made 31 saves and is 5-1-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average in his last seven starts.

"(Thursday) I thought was a great team effort," Keith said. "That's what it's going to take."

Joel Quenneville was back on the bench Thursday after missing four games because of a bleeding ulcer. The coach is happy to see Chicago close the gap in the playoff race but knows there is still a lot of work to do with eight teams battling for the final four spots.

"I don't think we're ever in a place where we should feel comfortable," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks, who haven't won four in a row since Dec. 17-26, have earned 12 of 16 points in their last eight games (5-1-2).

One of those one-point outings came in Arizona on Feb. 12.

Taylor Pyatt and Radim Vrbata scored in regulation for the Coyotes, while Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves and turned aside all three Chicago shootout attempts in a 3-2 win.

Phoenix is 5-1-0 against Chicago since the start of last season after being outscored 23-5 while losing the previous six meetings.

The Coyotes (33-21-9), five points ahead of the Blackhawks for fourth place in the West, arrive in Chicago to conclude a five-game road trip coming off back-to-back disappointing defeats.

After having a season-high eight-game winning streak snapped with an 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Phoenix squandered a 2-0, first-period lead in Friday's 5-3 defeat to Columbus. Vrbata, David Schlemko and Lauri Korpikoski all scored Friday for the Coyotes, while Bryzgalov made 29 saves but lost for the first time in nine games.

An inability to kill penalties has spurred Phoenix's sudden struggles.

The Coyotes allowed the Blue Jackets to convert 3 of 9 power plays after the Lightning had three man-advantage goals on four opportunities. They had killed 26 of 31 penalties during their winning streak.

"You can't get in a game like this and beat yourself," coach Dave Tippet said after the loss in Columbus. "We jumped out early, we're playing a real strong road game and decided we were going to take a bunch of penalties. That's just unacceptable for us right now."

Phoenix, which hasn't lost three in a row since Nov. 5-8, might fare better against a Chicago team that is just 1 for 8 on the power play in its last four games.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Crawford's return, Saad's demotion and power play concerns

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis and Slavko Bekovic provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks’ 3-0-2 start.

They also discuss Brandon Saad’s demotion and whether it could serve as a wake-up call, Corey Crawford’s potential return on Thursday vs. Arizona and what could happen with Anton Forsberg because of it, and address the power play concerns.

The guys wrap up the podcast by making a few bold predictions going forward.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!