VANCOUVER, B.C. — Last June, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup with two goals in 17 seconds. On Saturday night, they apparently felt the need to top themselves. Two goals in nine seconds: happens all the time, right?
“For us? A few times I guess,” said Andrew Shaw, who had the first of the two. “Once momentum starts going your way and you roll with it, those chances open up and good things come from it.”
Indeed they do.
Shaw scored to make up for a bad first-period penalty, and Marcus Kruger’s goal nine seconds later proved to be the game winner as the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Saturday. That quick-strike offense, bolstered by a great Corey Crawford performance (36 stops on 37 shots), proved to be the difference in a tight one vs. the Canucks.
“We haven’t played a low-scoring, tight game like that the last couple of weeks,” Crawford said with a smile. “But we’re never out of a game. We can always score goals. Everyone in this room was confident we could get one.”
Patrick Kane had an assist, as did three Blackhawks defensemen: Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya. Keith was especially noticeable, logging 24:39 of ice time and thwarting two Canucks goal-scoring chances in the crease.
If it’s one thing the Blackhawks have is confidence in their goal scoring. They’re pretty confident in their ability to score a few quickly, too — please see last June for a good example. Even when they couldn’t muster one in the first they were pretty content with their game.
“We felt like we had a good start in the first,” said Jonathan Toews, who got the wind knocked out of him late in the third but finished the game. “To go down 1-0 in this building, to us it isn’t a big deal. We played the way we wanted to. As soon as we got that first one, anything can happen.”
What they didn’t like was taking early penalties, and Shaw took a bad one in the first when he was called for interference. With Brandon Saad already in the box for slashing, the Canucks had 64 seconds of a 5-on-3. They didn’t waste it, as Ryan Kesler scored on a Jason Garrison rebound for a 1-0 advantage.
The Blackhawks had some opportunities in the second but still couldn’t get anything past Roberto Luongo, who stopped 27 of 29 in the loss. Then came the third period. Actually, then came the nine-second span in the third period. About 10 seconds after a Blackhawks power play ended, Shaw took Kane’s pass and slipped it between Luongo and the post to tie it 1-1. Nine seconds later, Hjalmarsson’s exit pass sprung Kruger and Brandon Bollig on a 2-on-1, with Kruger scoring his third of the season.
For Shaw, his goal was a weight off his shoulders.
“I felt bad for taking (that penalty) and putting the team down by two (players),” he said. “I felt like I needed to work harder and get one for the boys.”
Crawford, meanwhile, arguably had his best game of the season. Making his 22nd appearance of the Blackhawks’ 24 games this season, Crawford looked fresh and strong, stopping 36 of 37, including 14 in the third period.
“I love the way he played,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was nice to see him really strong. There were a lot of bodies, shots and traffic. When the game was on the line, I liked his response.”
The Blackhawks don’t worry about scoring goals. They’re good at responding offensively. They’re not too bad at the rapid response, either.
“Obviously this past year we’ve had a lot of goals scored quickly like that,” Shaw said. “We knew if we stuck to our game the opportunities were there. We stuck to it all game. It just took nine seconds, I guess.”