Keith reacts in time to save Blackhawks

January, 25, 2013
1/25/13
3:11
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
All seasons have their signature moments, and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith may have delivered an early one for the 2013 season in Thursday's 3-2 overtime win over the Dallas Stars.

With the Blackhawks trailing 2-1 in the final seconds of the second period, the Stars were pushing for one more goal to crush the Blackhawks' spirits heading into the intermission. A two-goal lead could have easily secured a win the way Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen was stopping shots.

Under three seconds remaining in the period, Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski pulled his stick far back and fired a shot from the left side near the blue line at Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. The shot came low and hard, and Crawford didn't see the puck in time to attempt to catch it with his glove. He pulled his legs together and tried to squeeze the puck between his two pads, but it squirmed through.

The puck trickled out behind Crawford and slowly skidded toward the net. The puck looked destined to add to the Stars' tally, and their fans jumped in the air in premature celebration.

In stepped Keith to spoil the party.

Keith had been a few feet in front and to the left of Crawford when the shot occurred. Keith was still in the same area when he watched the puck connect with Crawford. It took a moment before Keith recognized the puck was behind Crawford and inching toward the net. In one motion, Keith bent his torso toward the ground and fully extended his stick with his right hand.

Keith was able to get his stick behind the puck and stopped it with the stick's curve as the clock read 0.5 seconds. The puck rolled off his stick and began sliding to the right corner of the net. Keith quickly knocked the puck again to clear it as time expired.

It was the type of play that would have been impressive accomplished by anybody. Because it was Keith behind it, his action was applauded, but also acknowledged as being nothing out of the ordinary for one of the NHL's premier defenseman.

"He's quick on everything," Crawford said. "Lucky for me, he was quick on that. I think I owe him one for that. But you know Duncs does everything great. It doesn't surprise me; let's put it at that."

As the game played out, Keith ended up saving the Blackhawks from defeat. Instead of their first loss of the season, they rallied in the third period to the tie the game at 2-2, won it in overtime, pushing their season-opening winning streak to four games. They're now one victory short of matching the franchise-record set in 1971 of five wins to begin a season.

Where this hot start will take the Blackhawks is still unknown. Remember, the 1994-1995 lockout shortened season was won by the New Jersey Devils who were under .500 after 28 games.

But whether this season ends with the Blackhawks hoisting another Stanley Cup or not, Keith's game-saving reaction will likely always be a memorable moment in the 2013 season.
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
16 7 9 -2
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 7
AssistsP. Kane 9
+/-K. Versteeg 6
GAAC. Crawford 1.97