ST. LOUIS--Their second-line center goes down with an injury. The Chicago Blackhawks keep going. They face a deficit entering the third period. The Blackhawks keep going. Corey Crawford goes out with one upper-body injury two weeks ago, then sustains a different one in the first period on Thursday night.
The Blackhawks… you get it.
Crawford suffered an injury at the end of the first period, but Jonathan Toews scored twice and Ray Emery came up big in relief as the Blackhawks took a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. The Blackhawks have now gone 20 consecutive games to start the season without a regulation loss (17-0-3). And no matter what the issue, ill, aggravation is, the Blackhawks haven’t missed a beat.
“Ray was solid; so was Corey. Our team game today, led by our goalies, was really strong in all zones,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Everyone contributed in a comparable way, like we have all year. We’ve had some good games to date, but that might have been the best.”
What happened with Crawford is still unclear. Video showed him coming off the ice, in pain, at the end of the first. Asked if this upper-body injury is related to Crawford’s last one, which was assumed to be a concussion, Quenneville said this one “is not the same thing.” Crawford will travel home with the team tonight. Quenneville said the team will see in the morning if they have to recall a goaltender for tomorrow night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Toews scored his first goal 12 seconds into the game, the fastest the Blackhawks have gotten one to start since Dave Bolland scored 10 seconds in to the team’s 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on March 16 of last year. Andrew Shaw also scored for the Blackhawks. Marian Hossa had two assists.
Emery said he was “surprised” when he was told he was going in during the first intermission. But he was nonetheless prepared. The Blues, who sport the No. 1 power play in the league, tested Emery with it in the second period, to no avail. Crawford was credited with the victory Emery stopped 15 shots over the final two periods.
“The guys played a really good defensive game,” Emery said. “You have to find different ways to win. It’s not going to be the same guy every night. It was a really complete game with the boys.”
Indeed, the Blackhawks were solid in all facets. They weathered the Blues’ power play, once again got scoring from their supporting cast and strong goaltending.
Still, a quick beginning never hurts, and the Blackhawks’ starters provided that. Toews won the faceoff, and all five starters handled the puck in the first 12 seconds before Brandon Saad passed to Toews on the doorstep for a 1-0 lead. The goal was briefly reviewed but ruled good immediately.
[WATCH: Emery, Toews roll with the adversity]
“You don’t expect that, but to get that lead early in the game is a nice boost,” said Toews, who added his ninth of the season about seven minutes into the third. “I think all five guys touched the puck, finished the rush, went to the net, and it was a great play by Saad to throw it cross crease. If it goes off my stick or shin pad or whatever, it doesn’t matter to me. It was a good way to start the game.”
The Blackhawks finished, too, as they have throughout much of this streak. It doesn’t matter what happens, doesn’t matter who’s going or not going. The Blackhawks just keep rolling.
“We have thick skin, whether momentum’s going against us or there’s a call we didn’t like,” Toews said. “Any adversity that gets in our way, we’ve always been positive and stuck with it. If we’re down, we can find a way to come back and make it tough for them to close out a game. We’ve been hungry and determined to win every game. I think you saw that again tonight.”