Chicago Blackhawks: Corey Crawford

W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Blues (Game 4)

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
2:32
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues face off for Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series at the United Center on Wednesday. The Blues lead the series 2-1. Here's what to watch for:

• Blues forward David Backes is questionable for the game. After the morning skate, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn't reveal whether Backes will play. Backes was hurt by a hit from Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game 2. Seabrook will be out Wednesday as he serves the second game of his three-game suspension.

• Hitchcock announced forward Brenden Morrow will miss the remainder of the series due to a lower-body injury. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith did not participate in the team's morning skate, but coach Joel Quenneville said he will be fine for the game.

• The Blues believe they played their best game of the series in Game 3 despite losing 2-0 at the United Center. The Blues had 70 total shot attempts to the Blackhawks' 49. Hitchcock said, "I thought we were 80 percent in, and if we're going to beat them [Wednesday,] we're going to have to have a stronger commitment in our game."

• A power-play goal could be the difference for either team. Both teams have struggled on the power play and excelled on the penalty kill. The Blues are 1-for-16 on the power play, and the Blackhawks are 1-for-14. The Blackhawks' power-play goal came on their first chance in the series. The Blues scored theirs to tie the game in the final seconds of the third period in Game 2. Both teams have obviously been pleased with their penalty kill units.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is coming off his best game of the series. After allowing four goals in each of the first two games, Crawford stopped all 34 shots he faced in Game 3. Blues goaltender Ryan Miller wasn't far behind Crawford in Game 3. Aside from allowing a soft goal to Jonathan Toews, Miller was solid as well.

• Quenneville reunited forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on a line in Game 3. Quenneville often prefers to keep them apart to create more balance in the lineup. Kane and Toews have the Blackhawks' lone forward goals in the series. Hitchcock joked on Tuesday, "I don't think he's fighting very fair frankly. I don't like that. But we'll find a way to figure it out."

• Game 3 was tamer than the first two games. The Blackhawks and Blues combined for seven penalties, which was the lowest amount in the series. They combined for 10 in Game 1 and 17 in Game 2. Both teams are less likely to get involved in extracurriculars after the whistle as the series goes on.

By the numbers: Hawks-Blues Game 3

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
10:59
AM CT
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CHICAGO -- Here's a look, by the numbers, at the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their first-round series:

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped all 34 shots he faced, including 26 at even strength. His even-strength save percentage rose to .920 and overall save percentage to .932.

• The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on the power play. They're 1-for-14 for the series. They have 12 shots on goal from their power plays.

• The Blues were 0-for-3 on the power play. They're 1-for-16 in the series. They have 26 shots on net from their power plays.

• Blues forward Steve Ott and Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell tied for a game-high eight hits. Bickell is second in the NHL with 21 hits in the playoffs.

• The Blues had 14 players with a Corsi percentage (shot differential) higher than 50 percent, according to extraskater.com. The Blackhawks had four. Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko led all players with an 83.3 Corsi (the Blues had 20 shots for and four against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations). Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg had a game-low 25 Corsi (the Blackhawks had six shots for and 18 against when he was on the ice).

• The Blackhawks and Blues combined for seven penalties, which was the lowest amount in the series. They combined for 10 in Game 1 and 17 in Game 2.

• Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews won 19-of-24 faceoffs. He's won 56-of-83 faceoffs for a 67.5 winning percentage in the series.

• Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith played a game-high 27:27, and Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo played a team-high 26:33. Pietrangelo is the first in the NHL with 98:21 of ice time in the playoffs, and Keith is second with 96:32.

• Blues forward Jaden Schwartz had two takeaways and leads the NHL with seven in the playoffs.

• Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked two shots. He's second in the NHL in 14 blocked shots in the playoffs. He also leads the league with 19:24 of short-handed ice time through three games. He played 4:01 on the penalty kill in Game 3.

• Blackhawks forwards Brandon Bollig and Marcus Kruger started every shift in the defensive zone. They combined for 18 shifts.

• Blues forward Alexander Steen attempted 12 shots, including six on net. He has taken 35 shots, including 24 on net, in the series.

• Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa attempted nine shots, including four on net. He has taken 28 shots, including 21 on net, in the series.

Blackhawks finally finish off Blues

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
1:19
AM CT
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Corey Crawford Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty ImagesCorey Crawford credited team leaders for keeping the Blackhawks focused despite the series deficit.

CHICAGO -- Whether or not the Chicago Blackhawks admit to letting their minds wander to Games 1 and 2 of their first-round series with the St. Louis Blues in the final minutes of Monday's Game 3, everyone else watching was likely doing just that.

It wasn’t difficult to connect the dots between the three games. The Blackhawks had taken a one-goal lead into the final two minutes against the Blues in the first two series games, and those contests ended terribly for the Blackhawks. The Blues twice scored dramatic tying goals in the third period and finished off the Blackhawks in overtime. Chicago could have easily been up 2-0 in the series, but was down 2-0.

Game 3 was following that same script. The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead into the game’s final minutes. The Blues pushed and pushed for the equalizer just as they had in the first two games, but this time the Blackhawks were able to thwart them and close out the victory. With the addition of an empty-net goal in the final minute, the Blackhawks defeated the Blues 2-0 at the United Center.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville felt the win could do wonders psychologically for his team considering how crushing the first two games were.

“Absolutely,” Quenneville said of the importance of winning like that. “It was tough walking in here yesterday down 2-0 and could have one in there at least. So it was two brutal losses, and today was a little tight at the end as well. I think from that we can get a lot of momentum and enthusiasm off it, certainly confidence the stretch as well in games.”

Goaltender Corey Crawford, who stopped 34 shots, thought adversity in the past helped the Blackhawks overcome this latest trouble spot.

"I mean, losing back-to-back in OT after having the lead in the third and having them tying it up late, that's definitely hard to take,” Crawford said. “But this group has gone through some pretty tough moments the last couple years. Even this year, we've gone through some tough things and we've always been able to just stay calm and have that confidence. Our leaders do a great job of that. They set the tone and everyone else just follows."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews didn’t think he and his teammates were thinking specifically about their recent results in Monday's final minutes, but he thought they learned some lessons from them.

“In some instance, I wouldn't say we were thinking about Game 1 and Game 2, but there's that thought there that you've got to be extra careful and we're just throwing pucks out of our zone and making sure that we're not turning pucks over in dangerous areas,” Toews said. “A lot of times we did have time to skate it and time to control it down in their zone. If we can do that and stay with our game a little bit more, I think we'll be better off."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he wasn’t surprised by the Blackhawks battled to win Game 3. He knew they weren’t going to easily disappear just because they were dealt two early losses in the series.

“I said this morning when you're knocking off just a team in the league, different animal,” Hitchcock said. “You're knocking off the defending champion. They're not the defending champion because they have skill; it's because they've got resolve. You're trying to beat their resolve. You're not trying to beat their skill. Everybody's got skill and it is one helluva challenge.

“Sometimes you do it, and sometimes you don't, but I can tell you one thing, every time we play like we played, we get better as a team and better as an organization and we get closer and closer," Hitchcock added. "They know that we're not going away easy. If we're not good enough at the end of the day, that's fine, but we're not going away in any game. This is the level we're going to play at.

“We get [David] Backes back in the next two or three games, we're going to even go higher, and if that isn't good enough, that's not good enough, but it has nothing to do with blowing games like some track stars write about. There's a certain resolve that is required to win a championship, and that team over there's got it and we're trying to take it back from them.”

Crawford leads by his words, then actions

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
11:36
PM CT
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BlackhawksCal Sport Media/AP ImagesCorey Crawford stopped all 34 shots he faced Monday to help the Hawks trim their series deficit.

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and captain Jonathan Toews were proud of goaltender Corey Crawford even before he shut out the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of the teams' first-round playoff series Monday.

Quenneville and Toews, two men who always put their team first, admired Crawford for pointing the finger at himself and saying he had to play for better for his team to win after the Blackhawks lost the first two games of the series due to late-third-period and overtime goals.

“I think it just sets an example for everyone in this room,” Toews said after the Blackhawks’ 2-0 victory Monday. “When you have guys with attitudes like that, that are very selfless, not thinking about themselves whether they’re being criticized or not. … He wants to win. That’s all that matters to him. That shows a lot to the rest of the guys in the room.”

Quenneville also put the onus on Crawford after two games, saying Sunday, “He said he needs to be better, and he needs to be better.” Quenneville also told Crawford on Sunday that he liked his netminder's accountability.

“I generally stay away from the goalies,” Quenneville said. “It wasn’t really a challenge. We were just like any player having a chat. I was basically commending him on accepting that responsibility, what he said.”

Crawford’s actions met his words Monday. He stopped all 34 shots the Blues put on him. It was his third career playoff shutout.

Crawford made some adjustments after the two games, and he felt those made a difference.

“I was a little bit lower in my stance,” Crawford said. “When they were rushing, I was more on my post -- when I felt I needed to move out instead of moving backwards. That was obviously an important game for us. That first period was big. The first goal was a key to the game.”

After Toews put the Blackhawks ahead 1-0 in the first period, the responsibility fell on Crawford’s shoulders to maintain the lead. He wouldn’t be given another goal until Marcus Kruger scored an empty-netter in the game’s final minute.

Just as the Blues did in Games 1 and 2, they made life difficult on Crawford in the final period of Game 3. The Blues had 29 total shot attempts in the third period, 11 of which ended up on net and at Crawford. His final save came with 56 seconds left, when he blocked a slap shot by Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

Blackhawks forward Michal Handzus gave Crawford all the credit for getting Chicago out of Monday’s game with the win.

“I thought it was maybe our worst third period in those three games,” Handzus said. “They had the chances. We were kind of on our heels. [Crawford] played great and stepped up big time. Obviously we got to be better I think.”

Crawford’s focus was on nothing more than what was next. He wasn’t thinking big picture when it came to the series.

“I’m just going shot by shot,” Crawford said. “It’s all I could do the whole game was worry about the next one and focus on the next shot and stop that. I don’t want anything else going through my mind through that hockey game.”

And even though Crawford put Game 3 on his shoulders, he wasn’t feeling the weight.

“There is no pressure,” Crawford said. “I think it’s more reality. That was a really important game for us. It’s an exciting one, too, coming back in this building. Our fans are always loud throughout the year, and in the playoffs it almost doubles with intensity with our crowd.

“We were all excited and we had that calm, cool, confidence in this group. Our veterans, our leaders led the way throughout the whole day and the last couple of days just keeping calm and collected, and everyone else followed.”

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 2, Blues 0

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
10:20
PM CT
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CHICAGO – Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series at the United Center on Monday.

How it happened: The Blackhawks finally were able to secure a late lead against the Blues. Chicago had lost each of the first two games of the series by allowing the Blues a late third-period goal then giving up another in overtime. The Blackhawks took a 1-0 advantage when Jonathan Toews scored with a shot from the top of the left circle at 4 minutes, 10 seconds of the first period. Marcus Kruger scored an empty-net goal with 19.2 seconds left in the third. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped all 34 shots he faced. Blues goaltender Ryan Miller made 23 saves. The Blackhawks were 0-for-4 on the power play, and the Blues were 0-for-3. Toews won 19 of 24 faceoffs.

What it means: The Blackhawks won their first game of the series and cut the Blues’ lead to 2-1. The Blues won both of their games in St. Louis. Toews’ goal was his first of the playoffs. Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank held his own while replacing Brent Seabrook, who served the first game of a three-game suspension for his hit on David Backes in Game 2. Both teams continued their penalty-kill success and power-play struggles. The Blackhawks are 1-for-14 on the power play in the series; the Blues are 1-for-16.

Player of the game: Crawford called himself out after Game 2 and said he needed to play better. He did that in Game 3. Monday marked his third career playoff shutout.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks blocked 24 shots. Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya each had a team-high four blocks.

What’s next: The series remains in Chicago for Game 4 on Wednesday.

W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Blues (Game 3)

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
4:28
PM CT
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues face off for Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series at the United Center on Monday. The Blues lead the series 2-0. Here's what to watch for:

• The Blues will be without David Backes, who suffered an upper-body injury due to a hit by Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game 2. Backes is the Blues' top-line center and plays in all situations. The Blues will return forward Patrik Berglund to the ice. He's missed the past three games due to an upper-body injury.

• Seabrook was suspended three games for his hit. His absence is also costly for the Blackhawks. He's second on the team in minutes and leads it with four points in the playoffs. Sheldon Brookbank will replace Seabrook in the lineup in Game 3.

• There is some bad blood boiling in this series, but both teams have said it's important to not act on it. Aside from the Seabrook hit, Hitchcock also accused Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell of some questionable hits in Game 2. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has kept most of his opinions to himself in the first two games.

• Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko has made an immediate impact in the series after missing the final 15 games of the regular season. He scored in each of the first two games.

• Games 1 and 2 had a number of similarities. The biggest ones were the Blues rallying from a 3-2 deficit to tie the game late in the third period and winning in overtime. The Blackhawks were less than two minutes away from being up 2-0 in the series.

• Special teams have pretty much cancelled each other out through the two games. The Blues are 1-for-13 on the power play, and the Blackhawks are 1-for-10.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford accepted blame for his team's Game 2 loss. He said he needed to play better. He's allowed four goals in each game and has a .904 save percentage for the series.

• Five of the six Blackhawks' goals have been scored by their defensemen. Patrick Kane's breakaway goal in Game 1 was the lone one scored by a forward.
Here’s a look at the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks by the numbers:

* The Blues had 17:48 of power-play ice time in the win. They scored once on nine power-play opportunities. They are 1-for-13 on the power play for a 7.7 percentage in the series.

* The Blackhawks were 0-for-4 on the power play. They are 1-for-10 for a 10.0 percentage in the series. They scored on their first power-play attempt of the series.

* The Blackhawks accumulated a season-high 41 penalty minutes. The Blues had 20.

* Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were each held to one shot attempt. Kane has one goal and seven shots on net in the two games, and Toews has two assists and five shots on goal.

* Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig played a team-low 3:23 of ice time. He played three shifts and a total of 1:23 of ice time after the first period. He compiled 12 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute minor for roughing. Ryan Reaves played a team-low 3:49 for the Blues.

* Blackhawks defensemen accounted for all three goals in the loss. Their defensemen have scored five of their six goals in the two games. Brent Seabrook has two goals, and Michal Rozsival, Duncan Keith and Johnny Oduya each have one goal.

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Quenneville: Crawford needs to be better

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
3:22
PM CT
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St. Louis Blues, Chris Porter, Corey CrawfordMark Buckner/NHLI/Getty ImagesCorey Crawford called himself out after the Hawks lost to the Blues in overtime in Game 2.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville agreed with his goaltender Corey Crawford’s self-evaluation after Game 2 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.

“He said he needs to be better, and he needs to be better,” Quenneville said at the United Center on Sunday.

Crawford called himself out after the Blackhawks lost to the Blues 4-3 in overtime in Game 2 in St. Louis on Saturday. Crawford allowed a power-play goal which tied the game with 6.4 seconds remaining in the third period and then gave up the game-winner at 5:50 of overtime.

It was the second consecutive game the Blues scored in the final two minutes of the third period to tie the game and then won it in overtime.

“I obviously have to find a way to make that save, and our guys need me to make a save at the end, too,” Crawford said Saturday. “Really frustrating being up and losing the lead two games in a row in the last couple minutes. That’s pretty much not acceptable. We’re not going to win if I’m going to play like that. Just got to be better.”

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By the numbers: Hawks-Blues Game 1

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
11:18
AM CT
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ST. LOUIS – Here's a look at the St. Louis Blues' 4-3 three-overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday by the numbers:

• After scoring three goals within 7 minutes and 10 seconds in the first period, the Blackhawks didn't score in the game's final 82 minutes and two seconds.

• Blues goaltender Ryan Miller allowed three goals on the Blackhawks' first seven shots on net. He stopped the next 35.

• Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith played 40-plus minutes for the third time in his career. He played 40:59 on Thursday. He played 40:12 against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals last season and a career-high 48:40 against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals last season.

• Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson played a game-high 61 shifts. He also had a game-high six blocked shots.

• The game was the longest in the Blues' history. Their previous longest game lasted 37:07 into overtime against the Detroit Red Wings in 1984.

• The Blues had 103 total shot attempts, including 52 on goal, and the Blackhawks had 84 shot attempts, including 42 on goal.

• The Blues allowed six more power plays due to penalties on Thursday. Their opponents have had 62 power plays over the last 14 games, killing off 53. By comparison, the Blackhawks have allowed 36 power plays in their last 14 games

• Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo led everyone in ice time, playing 44:08.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford's 48 saves were a season-high. He set a career-high with 51 saves against the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals last season.

• The Blackhawks scored one power-play goal on six opportunities. They have scored multiple power-play goals just once in the last 25 games. The last time was against the Blues on March 19. The Blackhawks also had five shots on goal during their power plays on Thursday.

• The Blues had 10 forwards with possession numbers better than 50 percent in 5-on-5 situations, and the Blackhawks had five, according to extraskater.com.

Patrick Sharp is the lone Blackhawks forward to have positive possession numbers in all six games against the Blues this season, according to extraskater.com. He had a 54.2 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 26 shots for and 22 against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations) on Thursday. He hasn't had a Corsi percentage lower than 54 percent against the Blues this season and has a 56.3 Corsi (112 shots for, 87 against) in all six games.

• The Blackhawks won 62-of-109 faceoffs. Jonathan Toews led the Blackhawks by winning 21-of-32 faceoffs. The Blues had five players who won less than 50 percent of their faceoffs.

• The Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Porter tied for a game-high seven shots on goal.

• Toews led the Blackhawks' forwards with 32:37 of ice time. He had missed the team's last six games. Patrick Kane, who was out the last 12 games, played 28:31.

• The longest game in Blackhawks' history took 53:50 to decide in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens on April 9, 1931. Thursday's game lasted 40:26 of overtime.

Blues have Blackhawks' number late, again

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
1:18
AM CT
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ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Blackhawks experienced the familiar feeling Thursday of almost defeating the St. Louis Blues in the Scottrade Center.

Three times the Blackhawks have been in position in the final period to knock off the Blues in their building this season, and three times the Blues have crushed the Blackhawks’ spirits with late victories.

Thursday’s 4-3, three-overtime loss to the Blues in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series certainly hurt the Blackhawks much more than the previous two.

[+] EnlargeSt. Louis Blues
Mark Buckner/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe above sentiment is becoming more commonplace for the Blues late in games against the Blackhawks at St. Louis.
The Blackhawks led 3-2 for nearly 40 minutes and had the finish line in sight as the game clock was down to the final two minutes of the third period on Thursday. But just as the Blues proved in their two regular-season meetings in St. Louis, their fight wouldn’t cease until game’s end.

The Blues had been the dominant team throughout the third period as the Blackhawks tried to protect their one-goal lead, and with 1:45 remaining in the third period, the Blues were rewarded for their effort. It was then Jaden Schwartz struck the puck past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford to tie the game at three and ultimately force overtime. The Blues finished the job when Alexander Steen scored 26 seconds into the third overtime.

"They’re pressing," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of the Blues in the third period. "They’re pinching. They’re aggressive. They’re gambling. They had some opportunities there. We almost got through it."

"Almost" is a prevailing feeling for the Blackhawks against the Blues at the Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks almost topped the Blues when they first met in St. Louis this season on Oct. 9, but the Blues scored in the final minute of the third period and won 3-2. When they next met in St. Louis on Dec. 28, the Blackhawks were leading 5-3 in the third period before the Blues rallied with two goals in the final four minutes, forced overtime and won in a shootout.

Quenneville wasn’t oblivious to the similarities.

"We were close to getting it done," Quenneville said. "It was just like the last two games in this building here."

The Blackhawks had some quality opportunities in the third period to extend their lead to two goals. The Blues gave the Blackhawks two power plays in the last 15 minutes, but they didn’t get a single shot on net off either of them. The Blues had 14 shots on goal to the Blackhawks’ six in the third period.

Quenneville played the two power plays in the third period safe by placing two defensemen on each unit in case the Blues created a short-handed chance. He didn’t regret that.

"We’ve done that all year," Quenneville said. "We didn’t change anything on the timing or the score and the situation."

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane felt his team might have been holding onto the puck too long and trying to contain the lead too much late in the game.

"Maybe a little bit, for sure, especially the last 5-10 minutes," Kane said. "I know we had a couple power plays where we could have maybe scored, made it 4-2, which would have been nice. It didn’t work out that way.

"We’ll try to get the power play going a little bit better and capitalize on our opportunities there. Definitely would have been nice to get another one and give us a little bit [of] insurance."

The Blackhawks don’t have much time to dwell on their loss. The teams return to the same building for Game 2 at 2 p.m. CT on Saturday. Kane believes that might be a good thing.

"It stings right now, obviously," Kane said. "The big thing for us is we got to realize it’s only one game. We obviously got a quick turnaround playing an afternoon game coming up.

"That’s the best part of it; we can get back at it and figure out what we can do better."

Rapid Reaction: Blues 4, Hawks 3 (F/3OT)

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
11:53
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ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a quick look at the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 three-overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Thursday.

How it happened: The Blackhawks and Blues set the bar high for the remainder of the series. The Blues’ Alexander Steen scored 26 seconds into the third overtime for the win. The Blackhawks looked to have the game secured in regulation. They were leading 3-2 heading into the final two minutes of the third period. Jaden Schwartz saved the Blues by scoring in front of the net with 1:56 remaining in the third period. The Blackhawks had been leading 3-2 since the end of the first period. Patrick Kane broke a 2-2 tie at 18:24 of the first period, when he received a stretch pass from Jonathan Toews and scored on a breakaway. The Blackhawks’ Johnny Oduya and Brent Seabrook and the Blues’ Adam Cracknell and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored first-period goals. The Blackhawks nearly won the game in the first overtime, but Blues forward Maxim Lapierre blocked a Blackhawks’ shot while standing behind goaltender Ryan Miller in the net. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 48 saves on 52 shots. Miller made 39 saves on 42 shots. The Blackhawks failed to score on two overtime power plays, and the Blues squandered one overtime power-play opportunity of their own.

What it means: The Blues went up 1-0 in the series and held onto their home-ice advantage. The Blues have scored a number of clutch third-period goals against the Blackhawks this season. The Blues pulled out a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks by scoring in the final minute of the third period on Oct. 9. The Blues came back from a 5-3 deficit when they scored two goals in the final four minutes of the third period on Dec. 28, then won in the shootout. The Blues’ win on Thursday marked their first victory since April 3.

Both teams benefited in getting some of their top players back. Tarasenko had missed the previous 15 games for the Blues. Kane was out the previous 12 games, and Toews missed six games. The Blackhawks’ top line of Toews, Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad was especially effective for the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks won 54-of-91 faceoffs.

Player of the game: Steen scored the winning goal.

Stat of the game: Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo played a game-high 44:08 of ice time.

What’s next: The series remains in St. Louis for Game 2, at 2 p.m. CT Saturday.

Crawford providing Hawks stability in net

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
11:53
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ST. LOUIS -- Whether Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford would be able to follow up last season's success was somewhat in question the first two and a half months of this season.

Coming off a career-best season, Crawford wasn't at that same level through his first 24 starts of 2013-14. The Blackhawks often bailed him out with their scoring power, but his numbers indicated he was struggling to find consistency.

[+] EnlargeCorey Crawford
Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsTwenty of Corey Crawford's 31 starts since he returned from injury were Quality Starts.
Crawford's season took a turn when he suffered a lower-body injury on Dec. 8, sidelining him almost a full month. When he returned, he manned the net the way he did last season. Over the second half of the season, he has maintained that play and diminished doubts about whether he can lead the Blackhawks to another Stanley Cup.

An advanced statistic that's becoming more common to evaluate goaltenders is Quality Starts, achieved when a goaltender has a .917 save percentage or higher or has at least an .885 save percentage along with allowing two goals or fewer. Another statistic also utilized is Really Bad Start, when a goaltender has a save percentage of less than .850 in a game.

Of Crawford's first 24 starts this season, he had 13 Quality Starts and five Really Bad Starts. His .542 Quality Start percentage was far off from the .714 percentage he compiled last regular season. He had 20 Quality Starts and five Really Bad Starts in 28 regular-season games. He was even better in the playoffs, with 20 Quality Starts and one Really Bad Start in 24 games.

In his 31 starts since coming back from his injury this season, he's had 20 Quality Starts for a .645 percentage and just one Really Bad Start, which came in a meaningless 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals last week, in his final start of the regular season. He's stopped 800 of 866 shots for a .930 save percentage since Jan. 2.

Crawford has acknowledged the change in his play in the second half of the season.

"I've been feeling really well since I came back from injury in December," Crawford said recently. "It's just a matter of going out each time and getting focused and taking nothing for granted and making sure the next puck is mine and ready for each shot."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville admires how Crawford has been able to move on so quickly from play to play and game to game.

"Goalies, that mindset's got to be what's next, it's not what just happened," Quenneville said. "They've got to go in the now quickly. Whatever happened, good or bad, you've got to move forward because a lot of times you get measured on the ones you don't save. It's the ones that go in, as opposed to the great saves or the ones that are predictable.

"It's always challenging, the scrutiny goalies have and face on a daily basis, especially under the microscope even more so come playoff time. But Crow doesn't get rattled. He's unflappable. Especially at this time of the year, and he's proved last year that he moves forward and handles the next situation."

Crawford had his share of skeptics prior to the playoffs last season, but he quieted most of them after leading the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup. There may always be some who question Crawford's ability, but Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp is sure they weren't among his teammates.

"In our locker room, we certainly respect what he can do," Sharp said. "It seems like we always answer questions about Crow. I'm not sure why. He's a good goalie. There's no questions or lack of respect in our locker room."

No incentive for Hawks, and it shows

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
9:48
PM CT
By Benjamin Standig
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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WASHINGTON -- Lack of motivation can be a sincere issue. It was for the Chicago Blackhawks in their first game since learning they would officially be the third seed in the upcoming playoffs.

From surrendering goals early in each of the first two periods to not lighting the lamp on their own, the Blackhawks never came close to taking down the Washington Capitals. Friday night's 4-0 final score said as much.

[+] EnlargeJoel Ward, Corey Crawford
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsCorey Crawford and the Hawks had a tough night in Washington on Friday, prompting the goalie to say, "I don't know, just forget about this."
"It was a tough start," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said shortly after his squad's four-game winning streak ended. "Both [first and second] periods, we lose whatever energy we're looking to get in a game like that. It was one of those nights where they were clearly the better team."

Speaking earlier Friday after the morning skate, Quenneville said the hope was his squad would maintain its recent winning ways in spite of the incentive-less situation.

The Blackhawks (46-20-15) will open the playoffs on the road at either St. Louis or Colorado, with the location out of their control.

So when Alex Ovechkin sent a one-timer from the left circle inside the near post past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford 2:03 into the game, Quenneville's stated hopes realistically went away.

Forward Jay Beagle doubled his season total of goals by scoring twice for the Capitals (38-30-13), who are not headed to the postseason. His first goal came by simply directing the puck into an open net with Crawford caught out of position. On his second goal, Beagle had plenty of space in front of Crawford to handle a centering pass as multiple defenders focused on activity elsewhere.

"I think that's probably a good example of what's going to happen if we're trying to make plays and not move our feet," winger Patrick Sharp said. "We've talked the last couple of weeks about how well we've been playing, keeping things simple and just outworking the other team.

"Tonight it seemed right from the start that we were a step behind."

Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:19 into the second period with a shot off the back of Crawford.

"That's not the way you want to play a game," said Crawford, who sat out the third period. "I think it's a dangerous game against a team that's done with, a team with that amount of skill. They were trying stuff that maybe they wouldn't try in any other game. It feels like everything was just working for them."

In addition to not having injured but recovering forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks sat Duncan Keith and Peter Regin. Quenneville hinted additional players could rest in Saturday's regular-season finale at the Nashville Predators. Antti Raanta, who stopped all seven shots he faced in the third, is "likely" to start, Quenneville said.

Considering the circumstance, the coach and starting goaltender are content with discarding the essentially irrelevant outcome.

"We'll throw it in the garbage can," Quenneville said. "We learned a little bit, but certainly we're not happy about the way it was played out."

Said Crawford: "We can definitely just look past and move on to the next one. I don't know, just forget about this. I don't know what else there is to say."

Rapid Reaction: Capitals 4, Blackhawks 0

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
8:58
PM CT
By Benjamin Standig
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive
video

WASHINGTON -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on Friday.

How it happened: The Blackhawks fell behind 2:04 into the game. They fell further behind six minutes later. Their four-game winning streak would eventually fall as well. Things rarely got better on one of "those kinds of nights." Of course, the big-picture explanation cannot be ignored: Chicago played its first game since becoming locked into the third seed. Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin scored the opening goal -- his NHL-leading 51st of the season -- on the game's first power play. Jay Beagle scored twice, doubling his total for the season. Nicklas Backstrom's goal went in off Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford's back 79 seconds into the second period. Crawford made 16 saves during the first two periods before giving way to Antti Raanta for the third. Jaroslav Halak stopped 34 shots for the Capitals.

What it means: Beyond the lack of playoff chase motivation, the Blackhawks continued playing without injured forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Duncan Keith and Peter Regin were among the scratches as coach Joel Quenneville rested some players for the upcoming postseason.

Player of the game: Raanta brushed aside all seven shots he faced in the third period.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks played their first regular-season game in Washington since March 3, 2011.

What's next: The Blackhawks close the regular season Saturday in Nashville against the Predators. Chicago trails 3-1 in the season series.

Rapid Reaction: Hawks 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
9:20
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
video

CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center on Wednesday:

How it happened: Marian Hossa provided the late heroics for the Blackhawks as he scored with 47.7 seconds left in the third period to tie the score at 2-2. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford had been pulled off the ice to give them six skaters. Patrick Sharp scored the winner in the first minute of overtime. After being scoreless after two periods, both teams got going in the third period. Canadiens forward Dale Weise scored the game's first goal at 7:31. Blackhawks forward Jeremy Morin tied it at 10:34. He has three goals and two assists in the last four games. Twenty-two seconds later, the Canadiens went back ahead with a goal by Francis Bouillon. Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 25-of-28 shots. Crawford had 28 saves. The Blackhawks were 0-for-2 on the power play.

What it means: The Blackhawks, who are on four-game winning streak, kept their hopes of gaining home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They can still surpass the Colorado Avalanche, who have 109 points with three games left. The Blackhawks are 46-19-15 with 107 points with two games left. Wednesday marked their first overtime win of the season.

Player of the game: Hossa was clutch again. He had a goal and an assist.

Stat of the game: Only two penalties were called in the game. Both were against the Canadiens.

What's next: The Blackhawks close out the regular season on the road. They play the Washington Capitals on Friday and Nashville Predators on Saturday.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26