Crawford puts on a show as Hawks stay hot

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Crawford puts on a show as Hawks stay hot

DENVER -- Every team benefits from a good give and take. And after Corey Crawford gave the Blackhawks the early bail-out, his teammates took control with a stellar third period.

Patrick Sharp scored the go-ahead goal about halfway through the third period and Crawford stopped 31 of 32 shots in the Blackhawks 3-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. The Blackhawks collected four points on this two-game road trip and also ended the Avs' five-game winning streak.

But it wasn't looking that way early, when the Avalanche were controlling the tempo and spending tons of time in the Blackhawks' zone. Crawford stood up to the barrage, stopping the Avs on all 13 first-period shots they had.

Even the one goal he did give up, a Ryan O'Byrne tally in the second period, was an odd one that went off O'Byrne's body and past Crawford.

"We weathered that storm with him holding the fort. It was very sloppy. We were in their end the first 10 minutes," coach Joel Quenneville said. "He was strong all game long. His position was so good."

Crawford said he's felt strong to start every game this season, including Thursday.

"I'm able to feel like that right at the start of the game and that's important to have a good feeling right off the top of the bat," he said.

Marian Hossa scored an empty-net, short-handed goal to secure the game. Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov was as strong as Crawford, stopping 27 of 29, some in grand fashion.

Once the Blackhawks got past their early sluggishness -- and the relentless attack from the Avalanche -- they started to find their groove. They were once again getting contributions across the board, including their top line. Jonathan Toews scored his third of the season off a Daniel Carcillo feed to give the Blackhawks an early lead.

"We know we just have to keep working hard. Even tonight we could've had two or three more," Toews said. "It's a good sign when you're around the net. You know where two linemates are, you're not letting the other team kill your plays too quickly, and you're going to eventually get scoring chances."

Sharp's goal came from the left point, a typically successful place for him. Sharp, who got the rebound off Andrew Brunette's shot that Varlamov fought off, nearly passed the puck off.

"I knew (Varlamov) was maybe not down and out but recovering. He made a big save on Bruno and I wanted to pass to (Duncan Keith) but I thought maybe a quick shot would sneak past him or create a rebound or something," he said.

The Blackhawks are finding early season success because they're not just relying on one person. Yes, Crawford probably had to do too much early again, but the help eventually came. Be it the forward lines or defensive pairings, the Blackhawks are feeling good in their setup.

"We've had different lines contributing every night and that's just what we need," Toews said. "We had a great little two-game road trip. We want to win a lot early and put ourselves in good position."

Blackhawks release G Jake Hildebrand from tryout agreement

Blackhawks release G Jake Hildebrand from tryout agreement

The Blackhawks released goaltender Jake Hildebrand from his tryout agreement, the team announced after a 1-0 preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

The 23-year-old netminder signed a one-year contract with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League in June as an undrafted free agent.

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Hildebrand's best season at Michigan State came during his junior year in 2014-15 when he was named the best goaltender and player in the Big Ten after registering a 2.18 goals against average and .930 save percentage, including six shutouts which was tied for second in the nation.

The Blackhawks' active roster now includes 28 forwards, 16 defensemen and five goaltenders.

Preview: Patrick Kane to make preseason debut as Blackhawks host Blues on CSN

Preview: Patrick Kane to make preseason debut as Blackhawks host Blues on CSN

Patrick Kane will make his preseason debut when the Blackhawks host the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, and you can catch all the action on CSN at 7:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final horn to get analysis and player reaction on Blackhawks Postgame Live.

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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