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Emery emerging as No. 1 contender

12/8/2011
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There's little doubt Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp will get most of the headlines in the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Thursday, but the hockey world already knew they were star players.

Goalie Ray Emery is a different story. He fought to make the team after being given a tryout in training camp and now he might just have the net.

"I thought Ray was real good," coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after the win. "Early in the game, very solid first period, very consistent, looked square, looked big, challenged well. He continues to get points for us. Big win for him and for us as well."

Emery made 31 saves and many were difficult. A key came in the opening 20 minutes. Coming in, the Hawks only led 10 times after the first period and some of that was due to shaky goaltending by Corey Crawford. Thursday, Emery did what was needed to keep New York off the board.

"For the most part we did what we wanted to do, which was play a good, solid defensive game," Emery told reporters.

First came a break-away save on John Tavares then another one on Tavares during a power play. He stopped 10 shots in the first period and at least four or five were tough saves. He made a few more good ones during a 5-on-3 penalty kill.

"It's good to get in there and get some game time but I just have to stay solid and stop pucks I can stop," Emery said.

Quenneville isn't complicated when it comes to his goalies. When he makes the decision to make a change, if whoever is in net is winning, he stays.

"We'll see," he said about Emery playing next game. "We have something to consider. He's earned an opportunity to be back in the net. We'll definitely look at it."

That's Q-speak for "he's playing." There is no reason not to. The Hawks have been down this road before and Quenneville has a blueprint. In this situation, the back-up plays until he falters and then it"s back to Crawford. It"s Crawford who will get the benefit of the doubt until Quenneville decides he's seen enough. It's hard to know if the Hawks are far from a goalie change or not. Every game has meaning and right now Emery is on a little roll.