NASHVILLE — Corey Crawford’s answers were succinct, as to be expected after a dismal outing.
“Game’s over. Got to move on to the next game,” he said. “The wheels just fell off. Nothing else to say about that.”
It was supposed to be Crawford’s rebound game after getting pulled after the first period of Game 1 on Wednesday night. It was anything but that.
Crawford gave up six goals on 35 shots as the Predators exposed the Blackhawks’ goaltending and defense in a 6-2 victory in Game 2 of their first-round series. The series is tied 1-1 heading back to Chicago, where the Blackhawks will host Game 3 at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
And now, the question coach Joel Quenneville faced heading into Game 2 resurfaces heading into Game 3: who will be your starting goaltender?
“We’ll talk about it as we go along here tonight and tomorrow,” Quenneville said. “We’ll do what gives us our best chance.”
Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks. Filip Forsberg, Smith and Mike Santorelli scored for the Predators in the third period. Colin Wilson scored his third goal of the last two games and Roman Josi also scored for Nashville.
The Blackhawks were tied 2-2 with the Predators midway through the second period, thanks to Patrick Kane’s first goal of the postseason. The Blackhawks got a break on it, as they had six men on the ice when he scored. It didn’t matter, because the tie wouldn’t last long. Nashville scored with about five minutes in the second period — Craig Smith — and scored three more times in the third to take this one handily.
“It was one of those nights, pucks were going in on him,” Quenneville said. “It was later in the game. We probably could’ve pulled him earlier but that deep in the game, we left him in there.”
Yes, it wouldn’t have mattered by the time the Predators went on their barrage; they scored those final three goals in a span of 2:19. The Blackhawks were down 3-2 before that scoring spurt began, and a combination of the Predators push and Blackhawks mistakes led to it.
“For the most part we were pushing in the third, creating more. We just had some breakdowns, got odd-man rushes and gave up grade-A scoring chances trying to get back into the game. We do that often enough eventually they’re going to capitalize,” Jonathan Toews said. “Not a great finish for us but the first 10 minutes of that third we were doing what we needed to do to get back in that game. A couple of mistakes ended up hurting us.”
And on this night, there was no last line of defense.
“I started feeling good for a little bit and then just fell apart,” Crawford said. “Right now, it’s pretty frustrating. You can ask any goalie in the world and they’d answer the same thing. This game’s over though. It doesn’t mean anything anymore. Got to get ready [for the next one.]”
Will Crawford be in net for the next one? Quenneville said he will start the goaltender who gives the Blackhawks the best chance. For so many games this regular season, that was Crawford. Is he now?