Crawford's shutout helps Hawks reach 40th win

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Crawford's shutout helps Hawks reach 40th win

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 10:01 p.m. Updated: 11:15 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Brent Seabrook wasnt looking to do a Patrick Sharp imitation when he stood in the left circle on a late second-period power play. The defenseman just wanted to get a shot, any shot, past Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

One blistering shot later, he had the game-winner.

Seabrook had a goal and an assist and defensive partner Duncan Keith had two assists as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Florida Panthers 4-0 at the United Center on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks, who won their sixth in a row at home, moved back into fifth place in the Western Conference.

Jonathan Toews notched two assists, giving him a new career high of 44. Viktor Stalberg, taking the injured Sharps spot on the top line, scored his 12th of the season. Patrick Kane and Tomas Kopecky also scored as part of the Blackhawks three-goal third period.

The Blackhawks struggled to get one past Vokoun through nearly two periods, as he stopped the first 21 shots he faced. The power play was off, too, as the Blackhawks got nothing on their first three opportunities.

Then Seabrook came through on the fourth advantage, blasting one from Sharps usual power-play spot in the left point for a 1-0 lead the Blackhawks wouldnt lose.

To be honest I just tried to shoot it as hard as I could, said Seabrook, who wore the A in Sharps absence. Toews made a great pass to Duncan and him to me, and I just tried to let it rip and it ended up in the back of the net.

Corey Crawford did the rest on the other end, stopped all 23 Panthers shots for his fourth shutout of the season. It was a sweeter ending for Crawford, who was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots against Florida on March 8.

I wasnt happy with the last game I played in Florida, just wanted to come back strong and have a good game against them, Crawford said. You cant force anything, especially against a team like this thats pretty much looking for that. We were waiting for them to push the offense and then we capitalized on it.

And with Florida trying to get back in the third, the Blackhawks did exactly that. Stalberg scored 46 seconds into the final frame, and Kane and Kopecky scored within 5:01 of each other late in regulation.

If you watched (Florida) play (Tuesday) night against the Rangers, it was a very comparable start. We just wanted to make sure we didnt change too much, dont get frustrated, coach Joel Quenneville said. Playing with the lead is a lot more comfortable than playing when its anyones ballgame.
Bowman on Bolland

Stan Bowman talked Wednesday about Blackhawks center Dave Bolland, who is still recovering from a concussion he sustained March 9 in Tampa. Bowman said its just about patience with his recovery.

Were always hopeful these things can progress quickly, Bowman said. Its really hard to say; a lot has been talked about with these kinds of injuries that you dont know. It could be rapid, could be slower. Were optimistic, but its just wait-and-see.

Bowman said he was satisfied with the three-game suspension that Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina got for the elbow the league takes a lot of factors into consideration. I accept the way they handled it. He said the league also made the right decision in the lengthy suspension for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke.

Looking at reaction from league, other players and Pittsburgh (Penguins) themselves, they all concede thats not the type of play we want in our game, he said. We can talk about rules all we want and implementation of suspensions, but at the end of the day, its the players on the ice doing these things to one another. Theyre the only ones who can stop them from happening. The reaction to the leagues actions has been pretty consistent. Hopefully itll modify the way some players play.

Krugers debut

Center Marcus Kruger played just over 10 minutes in his NHL debut on Wednesday night. That included about a minute of penalty-kill work.

He did all right, Quenneville said. Hes aware positionally and I think his instincts are high-end. I thought it was a good start for him.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

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USA TODAY

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

PITTSBURGH – Well, that looked more familiar, didn’t it?

The Blackhawks put talk into action on Wednesday night, storming out to an early lead and never letting up in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re sitting in a good spot right now, sporting a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild – yes the Wild still has that game in hand – and, with five games remaining, they once again played the complete game they’d been missing.

The schedule doesn’t let up, so let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ first period. If there’s such thing as a statement 20 minutes, the Blackhawks made it in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins made a bad pass, the Blackhawks turned it into an opportunity and, a few times, a goal. The Blackhawks had a similarly sharp first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. On Wednesday, however, they didn’t lose any steam later.

What Didn’t Work: The power play. Yeah, you really have to reach to find something that didn’t work for the Blackhawks in this one. Their power play, however, didn’t do much. Their best chance on it was a Jonathan Toews shot on their second power play; that shot was blocked before it got to Marc-Andre Fleury. Their third power play, which came on a phantom tripping call on Conor Sheary, was their quietest of the night.

Star of the game: Tanner Kero. The kid’s been alright at second-line center, and he did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. Kero had five shots on goal, the secondary assist on Artemi Panarin’s early goal and added a breakaway goal of his own early in the third period. He also won five of 11 faceoffs. Centering Patrick Kane and Panarin could be daunting but in his short time there, Kero’s handling it very well.

He Said It: “It’s a nice opportunity that he’s taken advantage of in a short amount of time. You get a little more defensive responsibility. The upside with him is we wanted him to get better offensively as well, so it’s been a good couple of games.” Coach Joel Quenneville on Kero.

By the Numbers: 

850 – Career coaching victories for Quenneville.

524 – Career goals for Marian Hossa, who scored his 25th of the season late in the first period.

39 – Time, in seconds, in which the Blackhawks scored two goals late in the first period (Marcus Kruger at 19:05 and Marian Hossa at 19:44).

6 – Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks over the Penguins. They’ve outscored the Penguins 20-8 over that span.