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Sunday, November 27, 2011
On short rest, Crawford comes up big

By Jesse Rogers



LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford wasn’t really the issue while the Hawks were giving up a plethora of goals on their road trip. But between those crooked numbers and the Hawks falling to last in the league in penalty killing, he knew he could be better.

Saturday, he was.

“I haven’t been getting the results that I wanted,” Crawford said after the Hawks 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. “I feel like I need to give a little bit more.”

He gave plenty on Saturday, looking and playing with more confidence than in recent games. He made 26 saves.

“Tonight he was great,” Duncan Keith said. “A lot of big saves that just hit him because he was in good position. Corey was great.”

Crawford is usually unflappable when it comes to the mental part of goaltending. But even he is human.

“I just felt like I’ve been giving up a lot of goals but maybe I was just letting it get to me,” he said.

Corey Crawford
Corey Crawford had 26 saves in a winning effort on Saturday night.

It’s been a mixed bag for him on the trip. He gave up one goal in Vancouver but got battered in Calgary and Edmonton before righting the ship in San Jose. Then came five goals against in a win in Anaheim.

But Saturday was no a no-doubter. He was on his game in completing a weekend sweep which started with the 6-5 win in against the Ducks.

“He needed to be the strong,” Joel Quenneville said. “They crashed the net, second opportunities. He seemed to find pucks, very quick, very sharp.”

Crawford rewarded Quenneville’s decision to play him in his first set of back-to-back games this season.

“I’m always ready,” Crawford stated. “I like to play. The more I play I feel good. Doesn’t matter.”

The game winner

Jonathan Toews netted the game-winning goal in the second period after he performed the cleanest of face-off wins. The puck shot back to Duncan Keith.

“[Toews] won the draw real clean to me so that gives me extra time to make a play,” Keith explained. “It’s tough when the puck comes slower.”

Keith took his time shooting, allowing Viktor Stalberg and Toews to crash the net. The puck deflected off the end boards and right to Toews in the crease.

“It was a good shot by [Keith],” Toews said. “You can’t ask for any easier ones than that. It was just laying there. I’ve been saying it lately, you work hard, those bounces will come. Doesn’t really matter how they go in, I’ll take them anyway I can.”

A .500 trip

The Hawks feel a whole lot better about themselves after 120 minutes of hockey over two days in Southern California. They took down the Ducks and Kings to even their record, 3-3, on the circus trip.

“It’s nice to finish the road trip with a couple wins and use that momentum and excitement to head home here,” Keith said.

As it commonly occurs the Hawks probably learned more in their losses than in their wins. A 9-2 drubbing in Edmonton woke them up while a 1-0 loss in San Jose restored their confidence.

“The game that got us back on track was in San Jose,” Quenneville said. “Playing the perfect road game and getting beat.”

And that carried over to the final two games -- both wins. Anaheim wasn’t as pretty as the Kings victory though.

“In some ways our best game of the trip,” Jonathan Toews said. “We knew it was going to be a tight one. We were smart. I think all-around we played a good game. It’s fun to win those tight games, especially at the end of this road trip.”

Slappers

• Dan Carcillo was a healthy scratch for the first time this season. John Scott played wing on the fourth line.

“I thought he was effective here last year so that was the thought process,” Quenneville said of playing Scott.

Quenneville didn’t indicate he was unhappy with Carcillo but wants to see more.

“He had a great start,” Quenneville said. “Hasn’t been at the same pace but I still think he’ll be an important part of our team.”

Marcus Kruger played wing on the third line while Bryan Bickell was dropped to the fourth. Jamal Mayers played center with Bickell and Scott.

Patrick Sharp led the Hawks with seven shots on net. No one else had more than three. Sharp also had three attempts blocked and two more miss the net.

• The Kings lost for the first time in regulation when allowing two goals or less.

Quotable

“Every team in this league is good. ... What we learn about ourselves is we have a good team. It’s a fight every night.”-Duncan Keith on what the team learned on the 6 game road trip.

“As soon as you think it’s going to be easy it gets worse so let’s make sure we’re hungry at home.”-Joel Quenneville, after being asked about a home-centric schedule in December.