CHICAGO -- Finally, Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville was able to say it.
“Today was a goalie win,” he declared after the Hawks’ 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
With zero shutouts and below-average numbers this season, the goalies have been taking heat. But not on Sunday. Corey Crawford won his third straight game, giving up just one goal for the second consecutive day.
“We know the scrutiny goaltenders go through,” Quenneville said. “They’re under the microscope, and they get evaluated a lot more than players in front of them, whether defensemen or forwards. They come under fire when you’re not winning, and they get some accolades when you’re doing all right.”
Truer words could not have been spoken. And while Crawford has been under fire for a while, after making some tweaks to his game he’s come up big. He saved 62 of 64 shots in a little over a 24 hour-span to complete the weekend sweep of games.
“I’m more in control,” Crawford explained. “I thought I was starting to run out of position and ending up out of my net where it was costing us a goal every game. That’s too much.”
You didn’t have to be a goalie expert to see what Crawford is talking about. He was caught scrambling several times during the Hawks’ road trip, unable to even make an attempt at a save because he was far out of the net. That hasn’t happened over the last three games.
“Read the play and have confidence in my positioning, where I don’t need to run out like that on the side [of the net],” he said. “I’m covering a lot of net. Just wait for it to come and trust my reaction time.”
If not for his play in the first period on Sunday, the Hawks are never in the game to win it later. The Blues outshot the Hawks 15-4 in the opening 20 minutes and his saves on David Perron and Chris Stewart, among others, were fantastic.
“He’s proven it to us that he’s capable of doing it,” Quenneville said.
And maybe he’s on his way to proving it -- again -- to a skeptical fan base. Sunday, preceded by two other wins, was a start.
“We needed a win like that,” Crawford said.
He could have said “I” just as easily.
After going 0-for-3 on the power play the Hawks are 0-for-29 over their last 10 games. They’ve killed off the last 15 power play attempts by the opposition.
Crawford has a .955 save percentage over his last three starts.
Dylan Olsen was credited with a team high six hits, seeing 19:47 of playing time. He was plus-2.
The Hawks have won three in a row after dropping nine straight.