Predators get to Corey Crawford again


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was working to forget Game 2 against the Nashville Predators as soon as it ended Friday night.

Crawford often talks of needing a short-term memory when it comes to goaltending. His memory needs to be real short after enduring two of his worst performances of the season in Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against the Predators.

Following a Game 1 performance in which he was pulled after allowing three goals in the first period, Crawford didn't have the bounce-back performance he was hoping for in Game 2. He allowed a season-high six goals, including three in the third period, in a 6-2 loss. The nine goals in the two games were the most he allowed in consecutive starts this season.

"The game's over," said Crawford, who was one of the league's most consistent goaltenders during the regular season. "You got to move on to the next game. The wheels just kind of fell off. Nothing else to say about that.

"Right now, it's pretty frustrating. You can ask any goalie in the world. I bet you they answer the same thing. The game's over now. It doesn't mean anything anymore. Just got to get ready."

Crawford'ss outing brought into question again whether Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville would opt to start Scott Darling in Game 3. Darling replaced Crawford in Game 1 and stopped all 43 shots he faced.

Just as he did after Game 1, Quenneville didn't name his Game 3 starter after the game. Quenneville had called it an easy decision to start Crawford in Game 2 despite waiting a day to make that announcement.

"We'll see," Quenneville said. "We'll talk about it as we go along here tonight and tomorrow. We'll do what gives us our best chance."

Quenneville likely would have pulled Crawford in Game 2 if the Predators' goals didn't come so late into the game. They scored three goals between 12:41 and 15:00 of the third period.

"It's one of those nights where pucks are going in on him," Quenneville said. "I think it was later in the game. I probably could have been pulled a little earlier, but that deep in the game we left him in there. I think he's bounced back and he's coming after some ordinary performances and got us confidence and solidified our team and his own game."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews voiced the team's continued faith and support in Crawford.

"Our confidence is always there," Toews said. "We know what he's done for this team throughout the regular season and past years, and even the playoff series that he has won.

"There's no doubt every star player has moments where maybe they're exposed. I think people look at certain guys more. I think in the goaltenders' position everyone knows in hockey if things go wrong for your team, it's always easy to blame that guy."

Toews thought the Blackhawks had to be better in front of Crawford.

"I think as a team we take responsibility for the odd-man rushes, the high-quality chances we've given up that are going in on us," Toews said. "We know we have to try to clean that up in front of him to make his job a little bit easier. We know he'll find a way to get that confidence going and his swagger going because we all know what type of goaltender he can be. There's no problem there at all."

Crawford also remained confident in himself and the Blackhawks. Again, he believed the key was turning the page.

"We've had moments before, too, that have been tough," Crawford said. "This one is obviously one of them. Just got to forget about it."