Toews gives Blackhawks win over Ducks with second straight OT goal


Toews gives Blackhawks win over Ducks with second straight OT goal

When Duncan Keith was sidelined following right-knee surgery, the Blackhawks talked of everyone having to help more on defense.

Defensemen had to do a little more. Forwards had to help, too. But ultimately, the best line of defense is still the goaltender. And Corey Crawford has been doing is part.

Crawford stopped all 39 shots he faced for his second consecutive shutout, and Jonathan Toews scored the overtime winner for the second consecutive game as the Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 1-0 on Monday night.

The Blackhawks’ last two victories are ones for the record books. Per Elias, since overtime was reintroduced in the NHL in the 1983-84 season, the Blackhawks are the first team to post consecutive overtime shutout victories.

Not bad for a team still working through changes and minus their top defenseman. And on Monday, much of the victory credit went to Crawford.

“He was excellent tonight,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The tests the last couple of games haven’t been as dramatic as it was tonight. It was one game when, especially as it was going on, they started coming at the end. Rebound control was in order and [he] challenged at the right times; big in those tight plays. They go to the net hard, so it was a dominating performance by him and very instrumental in why we got two points.”

Crawford, coming off a 21-stop outing against Tampa Bay was busier against the Ducks, especially late. Anaheim, which had scored just six goals in seven games entering tonight’s contest, outshot the Blackhawks 19-6 in the third period.

“Yeah, when I’m more involved I can definitely stay in the game easier. But you don’t want too much action,” Crawford said with a smile. “This one was a fun hockey game to play in. It was a tough test for us and told ourselves we had to stick with it after the second, be patient. It was a good, hard-fought win.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks thought they had the regulation winner when Artemi Panarin put one past Ducks goaltender Frederick Andersen. But Andersen pushed the net off its moorings and the goal was waved off. Review confirmed the call and the NHL’s situation room released the official explanation:

At 14:25 of the third period in the Ducks/Blackhawks game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Anaheim net. Video review confirmed the referee's call on the ice that the Anaheim net was displaced before the puck crossed the goal line. According to Rule 78.5 (x) "Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the referee when the net becomes displaced accidentally. The goal frame is considered to be displaced if either or both goal pegs are no longer in their respective holes in the ice, or the net has come completely off one or both pegs, prior to or as the puck enters the net". Therefore the call on the ice stands: no goal Chicago.

The Blackhawks, however, got past that, getting a quick overtime winner again from the captain again.

“I think our puck carriers have done a good job trying to draw two players toward them and you just try and get speed going the other way. As you saw tonight, things are going to open up,” Toews said. “Sometimes that first shift, you’re waiting to tire out the other line and you get your one chance and it goes in. So we’ve been getting the bounces, getting the luck there so hopefully that keeps going for us if it goes down to 3-on-3.”

The Blackhawks got the necessary bounce in overtime. They got the necessary goaltending all night.

“They're big, they're strong, they're good at kind of being heavy on the puck down low and wearing you down,” Toews said. “You’re going to give up some scoring chances and Crow has really built that confidence early in the season that he can steal games for us and make a difference for us when it's a tight one, like it was tonight."


How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

How Blackhawks plan to handle Corey Crawford's workload

Corey Crawford is back and it didn't look like he skipped much of a beat. The Blackhawks were handed their first regulation loss of the season to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, but the 33-year-old netminder stopped 27 of 30 shots (.900 save percentage) in his season debut and made several timely saves to keep his team in it.

In the larger picture, it was a win based on how well Crawford looked between the pipes.

"Yeah, I think it is," coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Friday. "It's one of things we were wondering, how he would handle post-game and how he came in today. Very encouraging signs. He felt good in all aspects of what he went through and dealt with, and practiced well today too, so that was good."

The first one is in the books.

But what's the plan going forward? Will Crawford be on a "pitch count" or will they treat him like they have in past seasons when he was healthy?

In the past, Crawford has generally started somewhere in between 55-58 games per season. Part of that has been because of injuries. Another part is the Blackhawks have had reliable backups, which allowed them to give Crawford an extra night off here and there to keep him fresh.

It's not unreasonable, though, to think Crawford could flirt with 50 starts, considering he missed only five games to start the season. And they can still accomplish that by playing it safe.

The Blackhawks have 13 more back-to-backs this season, which gives them the opportunity to start Cam Ward at some point in each of them. That leaves room for another 15 or so starts to sprinkle in for Ward that could serve as rest days for Crawford and still being on track to start around 50.

Obviously, the Blackhawks want to be careful with how much they ask of Crawford because concussions are tricky to deal with and every player responds differently to it.

His return comes at a time where the Blackhawks are slated to play seven games in 11 days after playing just two in the previous 10. Thursday marked the start of that stretch.

"He’ll tell us how he feels and we’ll go from there and make those decisions," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks have been on record saying they prefer not to carry three goaltenders. But in this case it makes sense. At least in the short term.

Quenneville said Friday that the Blackhawks will reevaluate the situation at the end of the weekend following the beginning of a busy stretch where they'll play three games in four days.

"Yeah, that’s the mindset," he said. "Let’s see how we handle these three in four and then we’ll address it."

Crawford is expected to start on Saturday in Columbus, making it his second start in three days. That's when they'll get a better sense of how he's handling things.

If it were up to him, Crawford said he feels he's prepared for it.

"Yeah, sure," Crawford said. "Why not? I've been working hard with [strength and conditioning coach Paul Goodman]. He's got me where I need to be, so I'm in shape right now. Why not?"

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

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