Corey Crawford doesn’t know what it is with him and penalty shots — his success rate, that is. Actually, he didn’t even know what his numbers were on it, finding out tonight that he’s now 8-for-8 in his career.
But whatever the reason, he’s done well on them. And he added that eighth penalty-shot stop Sunday night when he stymied Sam Gagner’s opportunity in the Chicago Blackhawks’ 5-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Crawford said it’s about homework before the game, then reaction during it.
“You have to see who’s shooting, and we always look at what a guy’s penalty shots are off video. You keep it in the back of your mind, but basically it’s read and react,” Crawford said.
Crawford basically shoved Gagner’s attempt to the side of the net.
“I felt that move was coming,” Crawford said. “When he went to the backhand I was ready to push it to the other side before it even got there.”
Step forward, step back
The Blackhawks’ penalty kill took a big step forward on Saturday night, when it went 6-for-6 against the Dallas Stars. It was more human on Sunday, allowing two Oilers goals on as many power-play opportunities. Coach Joel Quenneville said the team continues to find ways to remain stoic on it.
“It’s definitely one of our points of emphasis,” he said. “We had a tough start (on it), but we had a nice stretch there for a while. In that stretch we didn’t take many penalties. We were doing it the right way. Tonight, we could’ve been more effective. Not happy.”
Next start coming ...
Nikolai Khabibulin didn’t get the start against his former team, the Edmonton Oilers, on Sunday night and now hasn’t played since he was pulled against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 29. The veteran struggled in two of his three starts this season, but Quenneville said a lighter schedule right now allows the Blackhawks to play Corey Crawford in back-to-back games this weekend.
“We like how he’s been practicing,” Quenneville said. “We’re looking to get him in here (soon). The next few weeks we have a lot of games, four or five in a week schedule, so we’ll get him in.”
— Michal Rozsival was getting some work done after taking a puck to his mouth late in the third period. Rozsival was sitting on the bench when the puck went off David Perron’s stick and caromed into the bench. Quenneville said Rozsival should be OK, but “they’ve got some work they’re doing on him.”
— Michal Handzus (upper body) had a strong skate on Sunday morning, Quenneville said. But it’s still uncertain when he’ll return to practices. Quenneville said it will probably be at least a week or two before Handzus gets back into games.