Blackhawks

'Razor sharp' Crawford at his best for Blackhawks

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'Razor sharp' Crawford at his best for Blackhawks

SUNRISE, Fla. Corey Crawford said he saw just about all of the shots the Florida Panthers fired at him on Thursday night.

Good thing his game was as sharp as his vision.

Crawford stopped 41 of 43 shots and Patrick Kane had the game-winning shootout goal in the Blackhawks 3-2 triumph over the Panthers at BankAtlantic Center. It was another tight one for the Blackhawks, who are now 8-2-2 this season.

And coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford plenty of the accolades.

To me, at the end of the night it was a goalie win. He kept us in there, he said. He knows a lot of the guys (around the league) now and should be improving in all aspects, but he was razor-sharp tonight.

Our guys were letting me see the puck, pushing guys out of the way, Crawford said. I saw pretty much every shot tonight so that makes a difference.

Sean ODonnell, who played more than 21 minutes in Duncan Keiths absence, said that high number of shots is still unacceptable.

That team there, its an improved team. It was good Corey did see a lot but you still dont want that, he said. If its 32 or 33 (shots), thats a more reasonable number. When you get in the 40s youre playing with fire a little bit.

And it did hurt them late when Ed Jovanovski scored with just 2:04 remaining in regulation.

Crawford had to be at his best. The Blackhawks had a 2-0 lead early in the second period, thanks to Jonathan Toews and Panthers killer Marian Hossa he now has 31 goals in 48 career games against Florida. But then the Panthers kept pushing until Jovanovski tied it late.

Were up 2-0, and I dont know if we think its going to be a blowout or not. But thats a good team over there, said Kane, who beat Florida rookie goaltender Jacob Markstrom five-hole on the shootout winner.

The Blackhawks have had some close ones this season. Quenneville figured this one, against an improved Florida team, would be hard fought. Once again, Crawford came up big.

Awesome game. The best player on our team, no doubt about it, Kane said of Crawford. I dont know why we played like that tonight but Crawford stood tall. Thats why hes proven time and time again he should be in there. Good for him.

Cat killer

Hossa continues to be the Panthers worst nightmare. He now has 30 goals and 58 points in 48 career games, moving him to fourth-best all-time against Florida.

What is it about him and the Panthers?

It could be the air here, Hossa said to laughs. Whatever it is, too bad we dont play more games here.

Briefly

Keith (left hand) was out Thursday against Florida. His status for Friday nights game in Tampa Bay was still uncertain.

Quenneville would not say who would be in goal Friday against the Lightning; he said backup Ray Emery could play.

Robin Lehner's honest assessment of Blackhawks: 'It looks far away but it’s really close'

Robin Lehner's honest assessment of Blackhawks: 'It looks far away but it’s really close'

The Blackhawks wanted to take advantage of seven straight games at the United Center after kicking off the 2019-20 campaign in Prague, but it hasn't exactly gone according to plan.

They're 2-2-2 through the first six home games as they prepare to host Philadelphia on Thursday for the final tilt of the homestand, but the Blackhawks feel like they've left points on the table. The last two games especially, the feeling around the locker room is that the two losses aren't reflective of the overall performance.

After dominating the Washington Capitals in every aspect but the scoresheet on Sunday, the Blackhawks were 1:33 away from shutting out one of the most dangerous Western Conference teams in Vegas before falling 2-1 in a shootout. That's one point out of a possible four when it easily could've been four out of four for the Blackhawks.

Robin Lehner was fantastic against the Golden Knights, turning aside 33 of 34 shots for .971 save percentage. And he was very honest about his assessment of the team after the game and had an optimistic but realistic viewpoint.

"When I chose to sign with this team, it’s because I really believe in this team," Lehner said. "There’s a lot of great hockey players on this club and we’ve seen it in spurts in the beginning of the season. I think the last few games have been really really good. Small, small details and we’re going to be very dangerous. I’m really liking what I’m seeing from a lot of the guys. A lot of the young guys are playing great and the core guys here, maybe it looks far away but it’s really close. It really is.

"Washington is a good team, Vegas is a good team, and at times we were totally dominating. It should have been 4-0 after two. Couple of posts were in the way, couple of missed bounces. That’s hockey sometimes. If we just keep playing like we’re going, we’re going to get good results and we’re going to have a good season."

Lehner is coming from a New York Islanders team that allowed the fewest goals against last season, and the fact the Blackhawks gave up only three high-danger chances at even strength and were 5-for-5 on the penalty kill against a Vegas team who had a top-five power play going into Tuesday's matchup is encouraging. 

Lehner is as candid as they come and he legitimately believes the Blackhawks are trending in the right direction, despite what the results may show. And if the Blackhawks can play like they have the last two games, the points will even out over time.

"There’s a lot of new guys to this team," Lehner said. "Great core players, a lot of new guys. They’re still trying to implement the system and we’re getting better and better at it. Again, I think we’ve seen it really well in spurts when we manage the puck and when we stick to our details. Such an offensive-talented team. If we just can keep going like this, we’re going to be successful. It really is.

"Honestly right now, I don’t even care about the standings, because we’re going to start getting wins. We’ve played some good teams and I think we’ve dominated them at times and are these small mistakes and we just gotta keep pushing the pace like the third today, we just got to keep pushing. We’ve got to keep pushing. We’ve got to keep attacking."

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How should Blackhawks handle Kirby Dach's future?

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How should Blackhawks handle Kirby Dach's future?

Should Kirby Dach see more ice time? What should the Blackhawks do with Erik Gustafsson? Has Robin Lehner separated himself in the goalie tandem?

Patrick Sharp and Charlie Roumeliotis join Pat Boyle to discuss that and much more on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast. Plus, you'll hear Robin Lehner's postgame comments after the loss to the Golden Knights and why he thinks the Blackhawks are "really close" to putting it all together.

1:08 - Blackhawks come up with best defensive effort of the season

2:52 - Changes made to the power play units

4:14 - Evaluating Erik Gustafsson's play so far

6:04 - Who fills in after the Connor Murphy injury

7:49 - Patrick Sharp remembers Patrick Kane rookie season

9:08 - What does the future hold for Kirby Dach?

12:04 - Struggles of the Blackhawks' top-six

14:44 - Another strong performance by Robin Lehner

16:33 - Lehner's strong post-game comments after Vegas loss

20:07 - How to handle the goalie-split going forward

23:25 - Biggest thing the Blackhawks need to improve upon

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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