Predators thump Blackhawks in Game 2, even up series


Predators thump Blackhawks in Game 2, even up series

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.

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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.”

[MORE: Blackhawks PGL: Who should Q start in net for Game 3?]

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?




Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

Blackhawks make it official: Corey Crawford is back

He’s back.

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the first time since Dec. 23, 2017 when the Blackhawks host the Arizona Coyotes, coach Joel Quenneville confirmed after morning skate on Thursday morning.

"It’s exciting," Quenneville said. "I’m sure he’s looking forward to it and we’re all excited about it as well. It’ll be a fun situation for the guys, seeing him back in the net as well. So we’re looking for everyone to be excited about tonight’s game."

The two-time Stanley Cup champion was medically cleared to practice from his concussion on Oct. 1, but the Blackhawks wanted to give Crawford as much time as he needed to get his conditioning and puck-tracking skills up to game speed before putting him into game action.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said on Wednesday. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. It was a pretty long process. ... 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."

To make room for Crawford on the 23-man roster, the Blackhawks will assign forward Luke Johnson to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League. Brandon Saad, who wore a white healthy scratch jersey all week at practice, will take his spot in the lineup.

For now, the Blackhawks will hang on to Anton Forsberg and carry three goaltenders as insurance as they get ready to start a seven-games-in-11-days stretch.

Crawford was 16-9-2 with a 2.27 goals against average, .929 save percentage and two shutouts in 28 games last season. The Blackhawks were 17-30-8 without him and finished last in the Central Division.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?


Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below: