Cross Checks: Corey Crawford

From the official NHL release:

ST. LOUIS, QUICK AND CRAWFORD NAMED NHL ‘THREE STARS’ OF THE WEEK


NEW YORK (Jan. 20, 2014) – Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Martin St.
Louis, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Jan. 19.

FIRST STAR – MARTIN ST. LOUIS, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

St. Louis paced all skaters with five goals and eight points, highlighted by a four-goal performance Jan. 18 versus the San Jose Sharks, to help the Lightning (29-16-5, 63 points) maintain second place in the Atlantic Division. He began the week with one point in each of his first three games: an assist in a 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Jan. 13, an assist in a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers Jan. 14 and a goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders Jan. 16. St. Louis then became the second player in Lightning history – and first since the team’s first regular-season game Oct. 17, 1992 (Chris Kontos) – to score four goals in a game in a 5-4 loss to the Sharks Jan. 18. He also matched his own club record by tallying three goals in one period, last accomplished Jan. 15, 2004. St. Louis then closed the week by collecting one assist in a
5-3 triumph over the Carolina Hurricanes Jan. 19. The 38-year-old Laval, Que., native leads the Lightning and ranks seventh in the NHL with 25-25—50 in 50 games this season, including 8-4—12 during an eight-game point streak, the longest active streak in the League.

SECOND STAR – JONATHAN QUICK, G, LOS ANGELES KINGS

Quick posted a 2-0-1 record with a 0.97 goals-against average, .967 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Kings (29-14-6, 64 points) to five out of a possible six points. He made 28 saves in a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks Jan. 13 to earn his second shutout of the season and the 27th of his NHL career, five shy of Rogie Vachon for the club record. Quick followed that up with another 28-save performance in a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues Jan. 16. He closed the week by making 33 saves, plus another two in the shootout, in a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Jan. 18. The 27-year-old Milford, Conn., native has compiled a 14-6-2 record with a 2.05 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 23 appearances this season, including a 4-1-2 mark with a 1.40 goals-against average and .946 save percentage since being activated from the injured reserve list Jan. 4.

THIRD STAR – COREY CRAWFORD, G, CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Crawford went 2-0-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .916 save percentage to help the Blackhawks (32-8-11, 75 points) remain in first place in the Central Division. He recorded 23 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche Jan. 14. Crawford then made 19 saves in a 4-2 victory over the League-leading Anaheim Ducks Jan. 17. He capped the week by turning aside 34 shots, plus another two in the shootout, in a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins Jan. 19 in the teams’ first meeting since the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. The 29-year-old Montreal native has played in 34 games this season, posting a 19-7-7 record with a 2.44 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

Now that's what you call a shootout

November, 30, 2013
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Blackhawks 2, Stars 1 (F/SO)
* Ben Smith (CHI): scored game-winning goal in 11th round of shootout; 1st career shootout attempt
* Blackhawks: won 5 straight games (all on road); allowed 8 goals in those 5 games
* Blackhawks: 6th straight win vs Stars (5 road wins in span)
FROM ELIAS: Corey Crawford allowed only one goal in an 11-round shootout that earned him and the Blackhawks a 2–1 win at Dallas. It was the longest shootout in an NHL game since Dec. 23, 2010, when the Lightning prevailed over the Rangers in the 11th round. Crawford has not registered a shutout this season but he’s allowed only one goal in a total of 10 games and won them all. That ties him with the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask for the most wins with no more than one goal allowed this season by an NHL goaltender.

Avalanche 3, Wild 1
* Gabriel Landeskog (COL): 1 G, 2 A; team-high 6th multi-point game this season
* Avalanche: Won 4 of last 5 games after losing 3 straight
* Wild: lost 3 straight games (combined 0-7 on power play); had won 6 of previous 7
FROM ELIAS: Gabriel Landeskog assisted on each of Colorado’s first two goals and then scored the empty-net goal which clinched the Avalanche’s 3–1 win at Minnesota. It was the second three-point game and 20th multiple-point game of Landeskog’s three-season NHL career. (He scored one goal and two assists against Calgary on February 28 last season.) Landeskog has recorded more multi-point games versus the Wild (three) than he has against any other team.

Capitals 3, Canadiens 2 (WSH wins shootout 3-2)
* Capitals: lead NHL with 6 shootout wins this season
* Mikhail Grabovski: Goal (8), assist (4th multi-point game this season); scored deciding goal in shootout
* Canadiens: loss ends 4-game win streak; 1-3 in shootouts this season
FROM ELIAS: Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby earned a first-star selection by making 35 saves in his shootout win against the Canadiens. Holtby has won four of his five shootouts this season, after winning all three of tiebreakers last season. Holtby’s 7–1 (.875) shootout record over the last two seasons is the best among NHL netminders who’ve had at least six shootout decisions since the beginning of the 2012–13 season. Ben Bishop is a close second with a 6–1 (.857) shootout record.

Sharks 6, Blues 3
* Sharks: Won 4 straight and 7 of last 8
* Brent Burns: 1st career hat trick (had 1 multi-goal game in previous 575 career games)
* Logan Couture: matches career-high with 3 assists (also had 3 assists on Nov. 21)
FROM ELIAS: San Jose’s Brent Burns notched the first three-goal game of his NHL career when he scored on each of his three shots on goal in the Sharks’ 6–3 win over the Blues. It was the second hat trick in the NHL this season in which the player had a perfect shooting percentage; the first one was by the Kings’ Dwight King against Phoenix on October 24. Burns was the first Sharks player with three goals in a game in which he had only three shots on goal since Joe Thornton on March 25, 2008 at Phoenix.

Penguins 3, Lightning 0
* Sidney Crosby (PIT) 3 assists (Penguins are 17-3-1 when he has a point this season; 0-6-0 when he fails to record a point)
* Chris Kunitz (PIT): 2 goals (Penguins are 10-1-0 when he scores a goal this season)
* Marc Andre-Fleury (PIT): 21 saves, 3rd shutout this season (had allowed 10 goals in previous 3 games combined)
* Penguins: won 8 straight games vs Lightning
FROM ELIAS: Sidney Crosby reached the 700-point mark in his NHL career when he recorded the second of his three assists in the Penguins’ 3–0 win over the Lightning. Crosby hit that milestone in his 497th game, making him the sixth player in NHL history to do so in fewer than 500 games, after Wayne Gretzky (317), Mario Lemieux (363), Peter Stastny (457), Mike Bossy (469) and Jari Kurri (483). Only three active players besides Crosby got to the 700-point plateau in fewer than 600 games: Teemu Selanne (541), Jaromir Jagr (557) and Alex Ovechkin (579).

Bruins 3, Rangers 2
* Zdeno Chara (BOS): go-ahead goal (6) with 8:55 left in 3rd period; recorded "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" (a goal, an assist & a fight - 5th of career, 2nd vs Rangers)
* Brad Marchand (BOS): goal (4), assist
* Bruins: 3-1-0 in last 4 games overall; 8-0-2 in last 10 home games
* Rangers: only 2nd loss in last 9 road games (7-2-0)
FROM ELIAS: Zdeno Chara’s goal with 8:55 remaining in the third period broke a 2–2 tie and provided the winning margin for the Bruins in their 3–2 victory over the Rangers in Boston. Chara has scored six goals this season and they’ve all come on home ice, including one in each of the Bruins’ last three home games. He’s the first Boston defenseman to score goals in each of three consecutive team home games in one season since Bryan Berard in November 2002. The last to do it before Berard was Ray Bourque in March 1999.

Flyers 2, Jets 1
* Flyers: both goals in game are unassisted goals (Scott Hartnell at 0:48 of 1st and Sean Couturier at 5:36 of 2nd)
* Flyers: won last 5 home games (last home loss: Nov. 7 vs Devils)
* Jets: now 2-1-0 on current 6-game road trip (next game on trip: Monday at Rangers)
FROM ELIAS: The Flyers edged the Jets, 2–1, in game that started before noon on Friday and the Philadelphia goals, by Scott Hartnell and Sean Couturier, were both unassisted. It was the first time in Flyers history that they won a regular-season game in which every goal they scored was unassisted. Excluding games decided by a shootout, the last NHL team before the Flyers to win a game in which it scored at least two goals, all unassisted, was the Rangers in their 3–1 win at Anaheim on Dec. 16, 2008. New York’s solo scorers in that game were Chris Drury, Nigel Dawes and Nikolay Zherdev.

Red Wings 5, Islanders 0
FROM ELIAS: Daniel Alfredsson, in the 1200th game of his NHL career, scored two goals for the Red Wings as they beat the Islanders, 5–0. It was the 62nd multiple-goal game of his NHL career and first for a team other than the Ottawa Senators. Alfredsson, who will turn 41 years old in less than two weeks (December 11), is the sixth player in Red Wings franchise history to score two or more goals in a regular-season game at age 40 or older. The other 40-something Detroit players with multiple-goal games were Gordie Howe (16 times), Nicklas Lidstrom (twice), Alex Delvecchio, Steve Thomas and Steve Yzerman.

Ducks 5, Flames 2
FROM ELIAS: Dustin Penner scored a pair of goals for the Ducks in their 5–2 win against the Flames, after scoring twice at Phoenix on Saturday and once at Dallas on Tuesday. This is the first time that Penner has tallied five goals over a three-game span in his NHL career, and in each of those games he scored a power play goal. Over the last five seasons the only other Ducks player to score power play goals in each of three consecutive team games was defenseman Cam Fowler in January/February 2011.

Devils 5, Hurricanes 2
FROM ELIAS: The Devils outscored the Hurricanes, 4–0, in the third period to turn a 2–1 deficit into a 5–2 victory at Carolina. It was only the second time in the last 16 seasons that New Jersey won a game by a three-goal or bigger margin after trailing entering the third period. The Devils’ other such win since 1997 was a 6–3 home-ice victory against the Lightning on Jan. 9, 2011. Before Friday’s win, the last time New Jersey had a comeback victory of that kind in a road game was at Pittsburgh on January 7, 1984 (7–4).

Blue Jackets 4, Oilers 2
FROM ELIAS: Ryan Johansen scored one goal and assisted on another as the Blue Jackets jumped out to a 4–0 lead over the Oilers and then held off a third-period Edmonton rally to post a 4–2 win. It was the team-high sixth time this season that Johansen registered both goals and assists in the same game. The only other Columbus player with more than two such games this season is Brandon Dubinsky with four.

Sabres 3, Maple Leafs 2 (F/OT)
FROM ELIAS: The Sabres ended their season-worst five-game losing streak with a 3–2 overtime victory against the Maple Leafs, after trailing by scores of 1–0 and 2–1 in regulation time. The losing streak is over but another Buffalo streak was extended on Friday: The Sabres have trailed for at least some part of the playing time in each of their last 23 games. That’s a Buffalo franchise record and the longest single-season streak of its kind by an NHL team since 2003–04, when Pittsburgh trailed in 23 consecutive games.

Summer wonder: Can the Hawks repeat?

August, 1, 2013
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Jonathan ToewsBruce Bennett/Getty ImagesWill Captain Serious (aka Jonathan Toews) raise ol' Stanley's Cup once again?

Few teams have dominated a season like the Chicago Blackhawks did in 2013. Their 24-game point streak was thrilling to watch, enough to make most hockey fans forget yet another soul-crushing and stupid lockout. And the best part of their season was how they did it, with a compelling mix of flash, dash and substance. It was just flat-out fun to see, especially when compared with the seasons and seasons we had to endure of neutral-zone trapping and defense-first snore sessions employed by countless successful teams of the past. Hockey was alive and thriving again.

It was no coincidence that the pieces came together in 2013 for the Blackhawks, Bruins, Penguins and Kings, all of whom returned the majority of their 2012 lineup. Those teams were able to get up to speed quickly even without the benefit of a training camp as they did not have to familiarize themselves with a truckload of new teammates or a new system.

For the Blackhawks, specifically, they got great seasons from Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Corey Crawford and Duncan Keith. And their potent attack benefited from great depth, provided by guys who would have been the stars on other teams, such as Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and Ray Emery, to name a few.

But enough of the puff-pastry talk. While the Stanley Cup makes its rounds with the Blackhawks this summer, one nagging question floats out there, unanswered.

Tell me straight, I can take it, doctor: Can the Blackhawks repeat?

The short answer: Doubt it. It's friggin' hard to repeat these days, man.

The longer answer: The Blackhawks have all the tools at their disposal to keep the momentum rolling: the core is healthy and will be back for another season, the the coach is getting results, the building will be sold out every night and management is happy. So why the doubt? It's friggin' hard to repeat these days, man. And that's no slight against the Blackhawks, who will again be really good. The Kings were a talented and deep team in 2013 and came as close to repeating as anyone has in recent memory, but still burned out. And that was with the benefit of more rest because of the lockout. (They just ran into the hotter Blackhawks.)

Plus, there are those little extra matters in 2013-14 of a full season -- a schedule that will no longer include relatively quick jaunts to Detroit and Columbus, but instead will have more trips to Dallas and Colorado -- and the many players on the roster who will play in the Olympics and will have to go all the way over to Russia to play a bunch of high-pressure games in a short amount of time, before coming all the way back from Russia right before the stretch drive.

Whew. I'm tired just typing about it.

Back to the short answer: So, no.
Dan BoyleKevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesWill Roberto Luongo be shrinking or starring in net for Team Canada?

Welcome to the dog days of summer. With free agency pretty much done, there's not much else to talk about until ... Olympics orientation camps, which start in less than a month. Really? Jeepers.

Three of the biggest questions heading into those camps:

Who will be Canada's No. 1 goalie?
Corey Crawford, Braden Holtby, Roberto Luongo, Carey Price and Mike Smith (and not Marc-Andre Fleury or Cam Ward, who have each won a Stanley Cup, by the way) have been invited to orientation camp. The problem is that whereas the U.S. is heading into camp stacked in the blue paint -- with Jonathan Quick, Cory Schneider, Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson, Jimmy Howard -- each of Canada's invitees is tainted by a shadow of doubt. You can't argue with Crawford's recent Stanley Cup ring run, but is he truly Canada's best over such a short, intense burst? Holtby is good, but hasn't won much. Luongo is good but ... well, let's not pile on to the poor chap. Price has had his ups and downs while playing in perhaps the most pressure-packed city for a goalie but has battled injuries. That leaves Smith, who has had one great season.

Canada has traditionally had a vague sense of who will be its No. 1; doubts surrounded Luongo heading into the Vancouver Games because the Olympics were in his home market, where he wasn't exactly beloved in those days. The previous time Canada won gold, in 2002, Pat Quinn's decision to start Curtis Joseph was seen as NHL-team favoritism and was met with further derision after an opening-game loss to Sweden. Quinn went to golden boy Martin Brodeur, as we all now know, but if that hadn't worked out, Quinn was left with Ed Belfour, who was on the decline.

This time, it's doubtful there will be a Brodeur bedrock to fall back upon. The positive here for Canada is that it's in the weakest division, playing in the same group as Finland, Norway and Austria, so it should have time to figure things out. The negative: Without being able to play on the big sheet ahead of time, the goalies won't have long to figure out the angles. One bad-angle goal could be the difference in the early going ... So actually, on second thought, scratch that positive bit about having time to figure it out. Which brings us to ...

Can the U.S. or Canada win gold on the big surface?
Geez, good question. Neither team has been able to win gold outside of North America since the NHL's players returned to the Games in 1998. So, it's debatable. (The 2002 Salt Lake Games, where Canada won gold, were held on the bigger surface, however.) If Canada can get solid goaltending, it will have to be considered the favorite. But that's a massive if. The U.S. is expected to be stone-cold steady in net, but it has questions elsewhere (Such as: Who is the team's most mobile, experienced defenseman for the big ice?). Weighing just the current factors -- and not including those that might develop between now and February, such as injuries to frequently injured superstars ('ello Sidney Crosby!) -- the North American teams will find it tough to bring home gold. Which brings us to ...

So, who will win it all, smart guy?
You can't discount the awesome talent-laden lineups of Canada and the United States -- OK, I guess I just did -- but Sweden, host Russia and maybe the Czech Republic have to be considered all up in there as well. If the Finns settle on the right superstar netminder to start -- they've got Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen playing the pipes -- and he gets hot, they could very well skate away with this thing in a huge upset.

The odds favor Russia, and there's no debating the awesome firepower the team has up front, but I've got to think the hosts will figure out a way to screw it up. Sergei Bobrovsky and Ilya Bryzgalov (and/or Evgeni Nabokov and/or Anton Khudobin) and an entire defense corp, consider yourself challenged!


BOSTON -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane didn't feel exactly worthy when he accepted the Conn Smythe Trophy on Monday night.

There was someone else Kane believes really deserved it -- Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford.

SportsNation

Who most deserved the Conn Smythe Trophy?

  •  
    29%
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    60%
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    4%
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    6%
  •  
    1%

Discuss (Total votes: 6,070)

"I think Crow got snubbed, to be honest with you," Kane said on NBC after the Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals.

A season ago, that statement by Kane seemed unfathomable. Crawford's name was being associated with obscenities and negativity when the Blackhawks' playoff run ended in 2012. Many fans and critics blamed Crawford for the Blackhawks first-round departure last season and would have rejoiced if Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman had gone in a different direction for a No. 1 goaltender this season.

(Read full post)

CHICAGO -- Just imagine the furor had Corey Crawford lost the game.

In the wake of the Chicago Blackhawks’ dramatic 6-5 overtime win in Game 4 -- one in which the Boston Bruins continued to target Crawford’s glove side -- the goalie has been besieged by questions about what is now perceived as a potentially fatal flaw.

Never mind that Crawford still boasts a 1.86 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.

Never mind that he’s two games away from winning the Stanley Cup or that he allowed one fewer goal in Game 4 than his Bruins counterpart, Tuukka Rask.

Crawford’s glove-hand woes have gone the hockey equivalent of viral.

For his part, Crawford, 28, has remained calm and unruffled throughout the playoffs.

“Obviously, they’ve shot there a lot more than blocker side, but for me I can’t start thinking about that because then you’re going to get in trouble if you start to think that they’re going to shoot glove,” Crawford said during a long question-and-answer session with reporters Friday.

“As a goalie, you never want to be thinking out there; you want to read and react. They made some good shots. Just got to get over it and be prepared.”

If he is surprised by the sudden attention to his glove hand, Crawford did not betray it. In fact, he noted that in the Western Conference finals, people questioned his ability to deal with shots to his blocker side.

“Both sides are bad, I guess,” he said, joking.

Were he a younger player, Crawford said, perhaps the sudden attention on this aspect of his game would have been unsettling. Not now.

“I think it's something you have to learn from,” he said. “I think if that would've happened in junior [hockey], I think I would've been pretty deflated, and my confidence would've been pretty low. I think it's something you build over time and something you learn from.”

If the media seemed unduly concerned about the fissure in Crawford’s armor, his teammates and the Chicago coaching staff seem unperturbed.

“There’s probably a lot of talk about every little play that happens out there. I think goaltenders have always received the brunt of criticism after a loss and whatnot,” defenseman Duncan Keith said.

“It’s a position they sign up for. They know they’re going to get the heat. But Corey’s been great for us all season long, and he’s always bounced back and had huge games after losses. We know that he’s going to be there for us.”

Coach Joel Quenneville likewise was unconcerned, but even if he feels otherwise, he wouldn't have shared that with the media anyway.

“He’s fine. I think that the scrutiny of goaltending at any stage of the season is at a different level of any other player, and I guess it's even more out there now that you're in the final,” Quenneville said.

“But Corey just seems to move forward, whatever the challenge is, the next shot, the next game. He's excited about the opportunity. We're excited about what he accomplished. He won a big game for us, and that's where we're at.”

Despite the line of questioning and the fact that Game 4 was his worst performance of the postseason, Crawford talked about the excitement of being here and being so close to winning the Cup for the first time.

“This is amazing. Furthest obviously I’ve ever been; so close to accomplishing a dream. You work hard your whole life to get here," he said. "It’s been a lot of fun. I’m sure the next game in this building will be the same thing, exciting crowd will be loud and it’s going to be a lot of fun."
SCOTT BURNSIDE: Well, my friend, here we are, headed back to Chicago for Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals with nothing decided beyond the fact this is a whale of a series we've got going. But with the series tied 2-2 and reduced to a best-of-three affair, the focus becomes even greater, the pressure to deliver more intense. We saw some of the Blackhawks' big guns step forward in Game 4, but Game 5 looms large and there are lots of guys looking to rebound or step into the breach and to push their teams to within one win of a Cup.

I can’t wait to see how Corey Crawford rebounds after his worst game of the postseason allowed the Bruins to sneak back into a game the Blackhawks looked to have well in hand with leads of 3-1 and 4-2. And it's no secret that the Bruins believe they have found Crawford’s weak spot by targeting him to his glove side. Boston's Tyler Seguin joked Thursday that maybe the Bruins would switch it up in Game 5 by going blocker side, and Brad Marchand joked he thought the book on Crawford was 5-hole. But look for Boston to continue to try to get pucks up high on Crawford, and he must prove the five-spot he gave the Bruins in Game 4 was merely a blip on the radar, and not the opening of the proverbial floodgates.

[+] EnlargeRich Peverley
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesCorey Crawford's weak glove hand gave the Bruins plenty to celebrate in Game 4.
PIERRE LEBRUN: There's no question that lost in Chicago’s impressive performance as a team Wednesday night was the first real stinker of the playoffs by Crawford, and was it ever a stinker. But it’s interesting to read the body language of his teammates after the game when asked about their goalie. Forget the cliches you would expect from teammates protecting their netminder. I mean, it’s not like you’re ever going to get a guy to admit he’s worried about his goalie.

You and I have covered this league for a long time, and I read a lot into the body language of the Hawks players while answering those questions about Crawford. They weren't just saying it, they were meaning it. I don’t think anybody on that team is concerned about Crawford, and while I believe Boston does have the edge in goal in this series, I do think Crawford has shown enough poise and confidence that he’s going to get back to his norm in Game 5.

BURNSIDE: Agreed, Pierre. Crawford has shown too much in pressure situations this spring to imagine he’ll melt down in the next few days. Similarly, I would expect Boston captain Zdeno Chara to bounce back after a pretty ordinary performance in Game 4. He was minus-3 and on the ice for five of the six Chicago goals. That’s not typical Chara, although coach Claude Julien pointed out that being on the ice for a goal against doesn't necessarily imply a player made mistakes.

That said, it was interesting to hear Hawks captain Jonathan Toews -- who was reunited with Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell in Game 4 and played a lot of minutes against Chara -- suggest the big defender is vulnerable and can be exploited. That's an interesting challenge being thrown down, and I am sure Chara will be better in Game 5. He’ll have to be, especially assuming Chicago coach Joel Quenneville will keep that Kane/Toews/Bickell line intact and have them unafraid of facing down the Bruins' captain. Who else are you looking to for big things in Game 5?

LEBRUN: I love the response of Boston's Chris Kelly on Thursday when he was told of Toews' comments and asked if he was OK with a best-on-best challenge, meaning Chara versus the Hawks’ top line for the rest of the series.

"I love our chances," said Kelly. "If they’re challenging Z, that’s a good thing. It’s really all I can say. Z has been this franchise’s best player since he got here."

I think what Toews is really saying, though, is that his team will not be intimidated by the physically superior Bruins. And you could see that on the ice Wednesday night. Boston tried to get into the faces of Chicago's top players after whistles, but Toews, Kane and Patrick Sharp gave it right back. The game within the game, if you will.

One guy I’d like to see more from is Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith, a player I had as my top Conn Smythe candidate for the Hawks before the Cup finals began. I feel like he’s been ordinary so far in the finals, but I have a feeling that’s about to change. And it has to for Chicago to win the Cup.

BURNSIDE: Game 4 definitely wasn't a great night for Canadian Olympic hopefuls Keith and Crawford with Canadian executive director Steve Yzerman in the stands. But how about a couple of dark-horse guys for Game 5?

We've seen lots of unheralded players step forward since the final started, but how about Boston defenseman Torey Krug? The rookie has had more downs than ups in this final series but has remained incredibly poised. He’s also got a cannon shot for a little guy, and Claude Julien continues to use him on a power-play unit that has been much more dynamic than the one the Blackhawks have put out.

I thought Rich Peverley was terrific in Game 4 after being a nonfactor the first three games, and on the Blackhawks' side I think Brandon Saad is finally hitting his stride in time to perhaps play a pivotal role in tipping the scales.

LEBRUN: I'll put my money down on Boston's Jaromir Jagr scoring his first goal of the playoffs on Saturday night. Jagr’s been knocking at the door, and made a great play on Bergeron’s second goal in Game 4.

As for Chicago, I think Bickell will make his first real statement of the Cup finals on Saturday night after nearly single-handedly destroying the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals. The big man has been mostly quiet in this series, but now that he's on a line with Kane and Toews, I've got a feeling he has a goal (or two) in him for Saturday.

Now that we've sorted that out, let’s get on that plane bound for Chicago now. They’re calling our flight to board!

BOSTON -- Four games into the Stanley Cup finals, there’s a bit of movement in our Conn Smythe Trophy candidate list, keeping in mind that this award -- unlike the NBA's -- reflects all four playoff rounds and not just the final series.

Still, the importance of the Cup finals has an impact on players sliding up and down the scale.

Here’s our ranking of the top four candidates on each team:

BOSTON BRUINS

1. Patrice Bergeron
2. Tuukka Rask
3. David Krejci
4. Zdeno Chara

The skinny: We ran our Bruins’ list by center Chris Kelly on Thursday.

“I don’t think you can go wrong with all four of them,” he said. “David leads the playoffs in scoring. If you’re a betting man, Tuukka. Z plays 30 minutes every game against every team’s best players, and he contributes offensively as well. Bergy is my favorite player. He never makes a mistake.

“I’ve said this before: Bergy has the offensive ability to be up there in the scoring leaders every year, but he chooses to play the game on the defensive side of the puck, which helps our team tremendously. Same with David; he reminds me of [Jason] Spezza. He’s very creative in the offensive zone, sees the ice and controls the puck well. But he plays all three zones, he plays hard. He’s killing penalties now that Soup’s out [Gregory Campbell].”

Kelly is right. Despite the half-dozen goals Rask gave up in Game 4, he is probably the bettors’ choice, and it’s hard to argue with his rock-solid netminding since the opening day of the playoffs five weeks ago.

However, my No. 1 choice is Bergeron. I just feel that his 200-foot game and clutch ability throughout the playoffs to step up at the most pressure-packed times make him the most valuable player on this team. If the Bruins win the Cup, my Conn Smythe vote will be with Bergeron.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

1. Patrick Sharp
2. Jonathan Toews
3. Duncan Keith
4. Corey Crawford

The skinny: The Blackhawks are tougher to handicap for the Conn Smythe than the Bruins, who have a more clear-cut list of candidates. Perhaps telling of the many contributions the Hawks have had from different players, there aren’t obvious front-runners. But you can’t ignore Sharp’s team-leading 10 goals. He has been a consistent force and threat in this series. The bigger the game, the more Sharp seems willing to raise his play. Toews has only two goals in the playoffs, which will hurt him in the Conn Smythe voting if the Hawks win the Cup.

“Yeah, but how can’t you have him in there?” a Bruins player, who shall remain nameless, told ESPN.com. “He does it all for them.”

And that’s just it. Despite the lack of goals, Toews has been all over the ice, doing all the other things so well for his team. The Hawks would not be two wins away from the Cup without their captain doing his thing. He's the mirror version of Bergeron.

I had Keith and Crawford ranked 1-2 for the Hawks before the finals but have found both to be average in this series. Keith is a workhorse; nobody plays more minutes, and he’s been tremendous in these playoffs. I suspect you’ll see his game rise over the final stretch of the series. Crawford has looked poised and confident in the playoffs, but I don’t feel like he ever had to steal a game. His struggles in Game 4 on Wednesday night will likely hurt him a bit with the voters. But he has time to change their minds again over the next week.
CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 double-overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center on Saturday.

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How it happened: Patrick Kane scored the game-winning goal with 8:20 left in the second overtime to put the finishing touches on a hat trick and a dramatic Game 5. The Hawks took a 2-0 lead in the game's first six minutes with goals by Duncan Keith and Kane, but they allowed the Kings to tie it with a short-handed goal in the second period and a power-play goal in the third period. The Blackhawks regained the lead when Bryan Bickell knocked over Kings forward Justin Williams behind the net, gathered the puck and found Kane for a goal at 16:08. But the Kings weren't done. After an icing call with 15 seconds remaining in the third period, the Kings won the faceoff, got the puck to Anze Kopitar, who shot it and Mike Richards redirected the puck into the net with 9.4 seconds left to tie the game and force the first overtime. Kopitar and Dwight King also scored goals for the Kings. It was the longest game in the Kings' franchise history. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 33 saves, and Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 31 saves.

Player of the game: Kane hadn't scored in the series prior to Game 4, and he said he needed to do more. Well, he did more; a lot more. He scored once in Game 4 and three more times in Game 5. He has six goals in the playoffs.

What it means: The Blackhawks eliminated the Kings in five games and are heading to the Stanley Cup finals for the 12th time in their franchise history. They've won four Stanley Cups, with their last one coming in 2010.

What's next: The Blackhawks will host the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday. It will mark the first time Original Six teams have met in the Stanley Cup final since 1979 when the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens faced other. Such matchups have happened six times since the 1967-68 expansion, but all came between 1971-79.


CHICAGO -- The 2012 Cup champs are off the checklist.

Now for those 2011 Cup champs, so bring on the Boston Bruins.

The Chicago Blackhawks booked their ticket to an Original Six Stanley Cup finals Saturday night with a dramatic end to a Western Conference finals that nearly needed a few extra days.

But Patrick Kane avoided subjecting his team to a long plane ride back to Los Angeles for Game 6 when he rifled a one-timer off an all-world pass from Jonathan Toews past Jonathan Quick, Kane's hat trick goal 11:40 into double overtime nearly bringing down the Madhouse on Madison in a 4-3 win.

"You know what, big two wins the last couple games, especially tonight, after they came back and tied it up with nine seconds left," Kane said. "For us to hang in there in the first overtime and pull it out in the second overtime was huge. We definitely didn't want to go back to L.A. Just a huge win to get us to the final."

The Bruins and Blackhawks open the Stanley Cup finals with Game 1 here Wednesday, the winner of the series being able to claim almost a mini-dynasty in the salary-cap era.

"It's exciting," Blackhawks winner Patrick Sharp, a holdover from the 2010 Cup champion Hawks, said. "For a couple years, it was tough just getting out [of] that first round. I've been watching Boston play in the East; they look like they're rolling. Another tough series ahead of us, but it's an exciting time."

First, though, the Hawks had to get there, and the defending champs from L.A. on Saturday night left it all on the ice in trying to force Game 6.

After Duncan Keith and Kane had scored to give Chicago an early 2-0 lead, the Kings were under siege, and it looked liked it might end up a blowout. But goals from Dwight King, short-handed, in the second period and a power-play marker by Anze Kopitar early in the third period tied the game 2-2.

When Kane went upstairs on Quick with 3:52 left in the third, it appeared the Hawks had booked their ticket. The party was on.

Ah, but the defending champs weren’t done just yet.

Mike Richards, back after missing a week with a concussion, tied it with 10 seconds remaining, sending gasps through the United Center crowd.

"Man, nine seconds left and they score," Hawks goalie Corey Crawford said. "We've been through so much so far in the playoffs, and we've been able to play our game after something like that happens. That was just another step for us."

The Kings dominated the first overtime session but couldn’t finish, which allowed the Hawks to regroup for double OT.

Toews and Kane broke in on a 2-on-1 break -- the Kings' nemesis all series long was giving up too many odd-man rushes and turning the puck over way too many times -- the Hawks captain waited for just the right time to send the puck across to Kane for the winner.

Some Kings players bent over in agony, crushed by the heartbreak of the moment.

"We wanted to keep playing," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "We wanted to play until the end of June, and that was our goal, that was our mindset. We just didn’t have it against these guys. They’re a great team. [I] Wish them all the best. They’ve got a lot of great players, and they play their system and they’re well coached. We just couldn’t find a way to win a road game … I was just disappointed. You can’t be happy with losing. You never are, whether it’s Western Conference finals or Stanley Cup finals or not even making the playoffs. It’s that same empty feeling.”

Back in the Cup finals for the second time in three seasons, the Blackhawks are on a roll, winning seven of their past eight games.

"We've had an interesting playoffs," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think as we progressed here, [we] had an ordinary start in the first series, on the ropes [down 3-1] against Detroit. I thought we've gotten better as we've gone along in these playoffs. You look back over several games of your career; that was a game you'll always remember tonight. That was an amazing hockey game. Give L.A. credit. You go up a goal late in the game. The guys, commend them, staying positive, persevering. L.A. might have played their best in overtime this series. Finding a way was exactly what we were looking for."

The 2010 champs versus the 2011 champs. Two Original Six franchises. Two great hockey markets.

Can it get any better?

"It's a special couple places. The tradition of the Bruins and the Hawks is special," Quenneville said. "I'm sure, you know, the rivalry could return instantly come Game 1.

"I think it's good for the league. It's good for hockey. Two great hockey markets. We're very excited to be a part of it."


CHICAGO -- Perhaps revealing of their journey traveled of late, nobody in their dressing room batted an eye during the first intermission.

No, despite outshooting the visitors 17-2 only to be down 1-0 on the scoreboard, the Chicago Blackhawks dressing room was apparently serene as can be.

"No one was worried in here," said Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. "It might as well have been 3-0 for us. We were fine in here."

With Jonathan Quick doing his thing in the Kings' net -- he was superb again Saturday -- a more inexperienced team might have gotten a little rattled by opening a series with tilted ice but a score favoring the other team.

Instead, the Blackhawks stuck with their game plan, confident that as they kept coming, eventually they’d get a screen or a tip or a rebound to beat Quick. They got two out of those three, the only recipe possible in putting pucks behind the best goaltender in the NHL.

First, Blackhawks blueliner Johnny Oduya on the rush hammered a shot from the sideboards inside the Kings zone that produced a juicy rebound for Patrick Sharp, the Hawks’ talented goal scorer beating coverage from Drew Doughty and slipping the puck past Quick to tie the game 1-1 at 12:29 of the middle period.

With the Hawks energized by a rocking United Center, they continued to come in waves, Marian Hossa then delivering an artist’s deflection of a Duncan Keith point shot, making it 2-1 at 16:22.

And that’s all the offense the Blackhawks would need in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, a tidy 2-1 decision doing the trick.

But in many ways the opener was a microcosm of the manner in which the Hawks are going to have to use their high-end offensive skill to get goals on Quick.

"Yeah, he's a good goalie," said Sharp, who tallied his team-leading eighth goal of the playoffs. "We all know that. He makes saves. He makes saves when he sees the puck, when he doesn't see the puck. Anytime you can get those second and third chances, that's the idea. We were fortunate with a couple goals in the second period."

That’s a little humble. Sharp showed his sense of anticipation in getting to where a rebound might appear given the angle of Oduya’s shot.

Hossa? Man, that tip was a thing of high-end beauty.

That’s what it’s going to take against Quick.

"He's one of the fastest goalies in the league, if not the fastest," said Hossa.

"Whatever he sees, he's going to stop it. You have to have traffic in front of him, pin him in the blue paint and put lots of pucks in the corners or in his feet and go for the second chances."

The other key for the Blackhawks will be to minimize the physical forechecking of the Kings. They were able to do that in Game 1, Chicago’s defense corps quickly turning around Los Angeles dump-ins and moving the puck out to fast-breaking Hawks forwards.

"We came out with lots of speed through the neutral zone. I think our forwards did a good job of supporting us, coming in low and giving us the opportunity to hit them with good passes," said Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook. "When you’re doing that, you’re breaking out of your zone clean. That means you’re keeping the puck out of your own zone for the most part."

When the Kings are playing their game, it’s by pounding the opposing defense and setting up a cycle game that’s hard to break.

That didn’t really materialize Saturday.

"We've got to have more zone time and establish our game," said Kings blueliner Matt Greene. "That's what we've got to do, is get pucks behind their D and the forecheck."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter shuffled his forward lines multiple times in the third period, trying to find a spark.

Afterward, he talked about the play of his top players "falling off" as the game went on.

Certainly on this night, there wasn’t much from the likes of Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter or Dustin Brown.

In a game decided by one goal, it was duly noted by Sutter that two of Chicago’s big guns in Hossa and Sharp found the score sheet.

"I think the two guys that scored for them are going to score goals," said Sutter. "We have guys that have to score goals. That's how close it will be."

The Kings have little time to dwell on things. Game 2 is Sunday here at 8 p.m. ET. Outshot 36-22 and with very little offensive-zone time, the Kings understand what they need Sunday.

"There were a lot of things we can do better out there as individuals and as a team," said Kings veteran Robyn Regehr. "Those are the important things we need to correct before the next game.

"We didn’t play very well, especially in the first 40 minutes," Regehr added. "We didn’t do a very good job right off the start, getting outshout considerably in the first two periods. Not doing a good job coming out of the zone, not getting sustained pressure on the forecheck -- all those things. We didn’t a very good job at all."

The Kings are now 1-6 on the road in the playoffs, definitely a different team away from Staples Center, where they’re rocking a 7-0 record and looking more like the physically dominating team that grinds the opposition into submission.

A year ago, the Kings were able to travel with that kind of game en route to a Stanley Cup.

They need to find that road game in a hurry. Home ice alone won’t save them in the Western Conference finals.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In a playoff year that has been dominated by goaltending drama, Chicago Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford is the King of Calm.

On Tuesday night alone the Montreal Canadiens lost starting goaltender Carey Price to injury and then lost Game 4 of that series to Ottawa, blowing a 2-0 lead along the way.

Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury melted down against the New York Islanders as the home team tied its series against the heavily favored Penguins with a 6-4 win.

Cory Schneider, shelled in Game 3 after replacing Roberto Luongo in the Vancouver goal, was between the pipes again Tuesday as the Northwest Division champion Vancouver Canucks were swept by the sixth-seeded San Jose Sharks.

And that’s to say nothing of the ongoing drama surrounding the Blackhawks’ first-round opponents, the Minnesota Wild, who lost inspirational netminder Josh Harding; Harding suffered some sort of lower body injury and left after the first period in Tuesday.

Harding’s replacement, Darcy Kuemper, promptly allowed the first shot he faced to float by him as Chicago went on to win 3-0.

Crawford?

Ho hum. No muss, no fuss, just another day at the office as he stopped all 25 shots he faced and the Blackhawks took a 3-1 series lead against the Wild, with a chance to close them out on home ice Thursday. He even managed to drum up some empathy for Kuemper’s situation.

“I think their young guy, obviously letting in the first shot, it’s pretty nerve-wracking. I’ve been in that situation before. It’s obviously pretty nervous time,” Crawford said.

This night Crawford was tested early on as the Wild started strongly, hoping to build on Sunday’s 3-2 overtime victory.

The Wild were also denied on six power plays, including back-to-back man-advantage situations early in the third period with the game still in question at 2-0 Chicago. Crawford was especially busy during those situations, flopping to corral loose pucks amid great traffic in his crease.

“It starts with your goaltender in those situations,” coach Joel Quenneville said.

“I liked his motion; I liked his movement in net. He seemed very patient; followed the pucks, found pucks. He seemed big. I think his rebound control was in place; a lot of traffic on those power plays that he seemed to (have) real good composure,” the coach added.

Overall the Wild are 0-for-15 in the series, and while the Blackhawks did block 26 shots in Game 4 versus just 10 for the Wild, Crawford has set the tone throughout.

“He was huge tonight. He really wanted to come out and have a strong game and we needed him to. He was really calm in the net,” Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook told ESPN.com after the game.

As for notion that Crawford has helped create an oasis of goaltending calm amid a sea of chaos, Seabrook is in favor of it continuing.

“It’s great," he said. "The less crap you have to deal with is better, it’s better on all of us. He’s been great and he’s held the fort for us all year as well as (backup) Ray (Emery). It’s been nice having both those guys back there."

Through four games, two of which have been decided in overtime, Crawford has given up six goals.

“We just go about our business. All year long we’ve just prepared for the next game and worried about what’s coming up,” Crawford said after pitching Tuesday’s shutout.

“I think we definitely showed that tonight; so many power-play situations for them. We just kept our cool. We didn’t freak out on the refs or lose it on each other we just stuck with it, played hard and obviously came through,” he said.

Crawford’s performance thus far stands in stark relief to the one he delivered a year ago.

Last spring the Blackhawks were dispatched in the first round by the Phoenix Coyotes in an emotional, sometimes violent, six-game series. While Coyotes netminder Mike Smith was a force, Crawford was less so, allowing a couple of soft overtime goals as the Blackhawks found themselves one-and-done for the second straight season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010.

This spring, though, Crawford has been a steadying hand as the Blackhawks have been at times slow to get their playoff legs under them.

The NHL’s best regular-season team has struggled on the power play, going 1-for-11 with the man advantage.

Their big line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad has likewise been slow to produce offensively. Hossa was the only one of the three with a point in Game 4, that an assist, while Toews and Saad are without a point in four games.

But those are relatively small issues in large part because Crawford has been so steady.

“He’s maturing," Quenneville said. "I think he’s had a real good start to the season. He’s had some good experience in big games and that consistency that he’s had as well as Ray and our goaltending situations has been the strength of our team. Just moving forward to the next shot and the next opportunity and being square and keeping a level disposition.”

Morning jam: Hawks goalies bring the goose

April, 15, 2013
4/15/13
11:33
AM ET
Blackhawks 2, Blues 0
* Corey Crawford (CHI): 30 saves, 3rd shutout of season (8th career)
* Blackhawks: 7th shutout of season as a team (now tied with Canucks & Blues for league lead)
* Blackhawks: 7-0-1 in last 8 games
* Blues: lost last 2 games following a 6-game winning streak
FROM ELIAS: Corey Crawford made 29 saves as he led the Blackhawks to a 2–0 win against the Blues in St. Louis on Sunday afternoon. It was Crawford’s third shutout of the season, tying him with Ray Emery for the team lead in that category. This is the fifth season in which Chicago has had two goaltenders each register at least three shutouts. That also happened in 1964–65 (Glenn Hall, Denis DeJordy), 1971–72 (Tony Esposito, Gary Smith), 2008–09 (Cristobal Huet, Nikolai Khabibulin) and 2009–10 (Huet, Antti Niemi).

Red Wings 3, Predators 0
* Jimmy Howard (DET): 22 saves; 3rd shutout this season, 2 of them vs Predators
* Red Wings: Snap 3-game losing streak
* Red Wings: 8th place in West with 6 games remaining; made playoffs in each of last 21 seasons
* Predators: 6-game losing streak

Sabres 3, Lightning 1
* Sabres: won 2 straight games; 5-2-0 in last 7 games
* Sabres: trail Rangers by 4 points for 8th & final playoff spot in Eastern Conference (BUF has 5 games left to play)
* Lightning: 1-5-2 in last 8 games overall; 4-10-3 in last 17 road games at BUF



There was a lot to digest while watching the frenzied action at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon. Big picture, the Chicago Blackhawks continue to amaze with their speed and their attention to detail. When Detroit took a 1-0 lead early in the third period and the clock was ticking down toward what appeared to be the dagger in the Blackhawks’ record streak, you might have expected the Hawks to sag just a little. But even with the Wings pressing for the insurance marker, the Blackhawks didn’t buckle. With Corey Crawford standing tall (he stopped 32 of 33 shots to run his record to 10-0-3), the Blackhawks pressured the Wings into a late delay-of-game penalty and then Patrick Kane whipped home the tying goal with 2:02 left in regulation after a heads-up play by Viktor Stalberg to negate a Wings clearing attempt. Kane then juked his way to the winner in the shootout and bingo, the Blackhawks are 19-0-3.

The game might have been the most entertaining we’ve seen in this lockout-shortened season and while the Wings are not the Wings of old and a playoff spot is by no means assured (they’re tied with four other teams with 24 points and were technically in eighth place as of Monday morning, based on the tie-breaking system), this one had a definite playoff feel to it.

Although there might have been 20 or 25 glorious scoring chances combined, the player who once again stood out was Kane. He simply looks faster and more confident than we've seen the former rookie of the year look in a long time. We all know the various ups and downs of his brief career: the Cup-winning goal in 2010, the silver medal at the Olympics, the reports of partying, brushes with the law. Sunday, though, it was hard not to imagine that this is a young man who is finally getting it and he is full value for the Hart Trophy discussion that surrounds him at the halfway point.

Finally, as this terrific tilt wound its way to its conclusion, you had to wonder if the fans at Joe Louis Arena had a moment of nostalgia for what will be lost as the Blackhawks will remain in the Western Conference and Detroit will be headed for the (bloated) Eastern Conference if the league has its way with realignment. We already know Chicago fans and the team itself won’t be happy to bid adieu to their longtime rivals, especially after a tilt like Sunday’s.

• The New Jersey Devils, surprise leaders of the Eastern Conference, dumped Pittsburgh in a home-and-home series on this snowy weekend, defeating the previously red-hot Pens by identical 3-1 scores. The Devils have won five in a row and David Clarkson continued his terrific start with his eighth and ninth goals in Sunday’s win. He is tied for second in the NHL in goal scoring. Johan Hedberg, the once-upon-a-time Penguin, did the job Sunday as he turned aside 23 of 24 shots for the Devils, who are tied for third in goals allowed per game. The Penguins had been riding a five-game win streak before the lost weekend against the Devils, and a lack of discipline and timely scoring has set them back on their heels.

• So, how good are the Chicago Blackhawks? One quarter of the way through the season and the Blackhawks have yet to lose in regulation in spite of playing only two games at home. Chicago completed a six-game road trip Sunday with a 3-0 whitewashing of the Nashville Predators and Tuesday will begin a seven-game homestand. Patrick Kane continued his hot start with his ninth goal of the season while Corey Crawford (Canadian Olympic team, anyone?) stopped all 17 Nashville shots as the Blackhawks improved to 10-0-2. Chicago is tied for third in goals allowed per game and second in goals scored. Given the paltry shot total Sunday, it’s no surprise the Predators are dead last in the league in goals per game.

• In a terrific tilt Sunday afternoon in Detroit, it looked like the Kings were going to get rewarded for some hard work before Jonathan Ericsson and Jimmy Howard combined to crush their hopes. Howard, who has played in all but one of the Red Wings’ 12 games, stopped 45 of 47 shots. Then, after Alec Martinez tied the game at 2 with less than a minute to play in regulation and an extra attacker on the ice, Ericsson squeezed a shot through Kings netminder Jonathan Quick with 4.5 seconds left to give the Wings a 3-2 win, their third in a row. The Kings are following last season’s script when they struggled through the first half, unable to produce offense. The defending champs are 25th in the league in goals scored per game and 27th on the power play. Their eight points are tied for last in the Western Conference.

• Even when the Bruins decide to give No. 1 netminder Tuukka Rask a break, it doesn’t matter. With Anton Khudobin getting a rare start, Boston shut down hard-luck Buffalo 3-1 Sunday to move their record to 8-1-1 on the season. The victory, Khudobin’s second in just his second start, was the Bruins’ third win in a row. They also improved to 4-0-1 on the road. The Sabres, meanwhile, continue to struggle to find any kind of scoring depth and fell to 5-7-1.

• The New York Rangers welcomed Dan Girardi back from injury by whipping the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Sunday night. The Bolts, whose game Saturday in Boston was postponed because of heavy snowfall that buried the East Coast, have lost four straight, and after playing well early in the season with a heavy home schedule have fallen back to 6-5-0. They have been outscored 14-6 during this four-game slide, the last three of which have come on the road. The good news for the Lightning is that they play four of their next five at home.

• One thing about the youthful Edmonton Oilers is that they are an opportunistic lot. Despite ranking 23rd in goals per game, they are fifth in power-play efficiency and sixth while killing penalties. Sunday they got a short-handed goal from Magnus Paajarvi that stood up as the winner in a 3-1 victory over the hapless Columbus Blue Jackets that ended a five-game winless streak (0-2-3). The Blue Jackets are 2-7-1 in their past 10 and have just two regulation or overtime victories, tied with Los Angeles for the fewest in the league.

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