Corey Crawford was moving as well as he has all season, and it came in handy against a young trying-to-impress group of Calgary Flames.
As final regular-season dress rehearsals go, the Chicago Blackhawks goaltender had a good one. Now he has to do the same in the postseason.
Crawford stopped 24 of 25 shots, in a performance coach Joel Quenneville called “outstanding,” in the Blackhawks’ 3-1 victory over the Flames on Friday night. It was victory No. 36 for the Blackhawks, who wrapped up their home regular-season schedule with a solid team game and a great goaltending performance.
“He was sharp, quick and had high-quality opportunities against him,” Quenneville said. “He was outstanding.”
Parick Kane and Jonathan Toews each scored their 23rd goals of the season. Marcus Kruger added his fourth in the third period. It was likely the last regular-season game for some of the Blackhawks’ top players; tomorrow’s game in St. Louis will probably feature several Rockford call-ups. And it was a solid game against a Flames team that outplayed the Blackhawks in pockets on Friday.
For Crawford, who’s not starting tomorrow -– Carter Hutton’s getting the call -– it was a great regular-season finale. He stopped 24 of 25, some of which were high-quality chances.
“He made some big saves,” Kane said. “I thought we played good, but we gave up some grade-A chances and he did a great job of stopping them. Good for him to play a game like that before we head into the first round.”
Crawford wraps up his regular season 19-5-5 with a 1.94 goals-against average (4th in the league) and .926 save percentage (5th in the NHL). He said he feels good entering the postseason.
“I’ve had some good preparation throughout the year,” he said. “I try not to change anything and just try to carry this momentum into the playoffs. We’re just trying not to get complacent and continue playing hard and making the right plays out there.”
The Flames tried to take advantage of a few Blackhawks complacent moments on Friday but were stymied on all but one, a short-handed goal by Chris Butler. Otherwise the Blackhawks were solid, and Kruger’s third-period goal brought the momentum back to the Blackhawks for good.
Kane and Toews continued their recent game of dueling-banjo goal scoring, Kane giving the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead and Toews added his 3 ½ minutes later.
“Calgary wasn’t going to go anywhere. They were going to work hard with some pride and we couldn’t take the night off,” Toews said. “We made some solid plays and played a good 60 minutes.”
That was likely the Blackhawks’ last dress rehearsal, as a regular lineup, heading into the playoffs. The performances came across just fine.
“We’re confident going in,” Duncan Keith said. “It’s just a matter of playing to our strengths.”