Crawford's struggles open door for Emery

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Crawford's struggles open door for Emery

Updated: 4:42 p.m.

Corey Crawford is in uncharted NHL territory: hes slumping. Its something thats unknown to him at this level, as he excelled in every situation during his rookie season and even through the first month of this one.

So while he works on getting out of his slump, the Blackhawks will turn to their backup on Thursday night.

Ray Emery will get the start when the Blackhawks face the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday. It will be the second start in the last three games for Emery, who also had relief duty when Crawford was pulled against Phoenix on Tuesday night.

For Emery, whos sporting a 4-1-2 mark, its a chance to continue the solid work hes done during the regular season. He won in St. Louis on Saturday, and outside of that mess in Edmonton, which was a team-wide debacle, hes been steady.

For Crawford, its a chance to take a step back, assess whats happening and work on it.

He can work on some things (with goaltending coach Stephane Waite) and get that confidence in the net, coach Joel Quenneville said. He can work on (things), whether its handling the puck, rebound control or fighting through traffic. Stephs going to be working with him the next few days to get that game back where it needs to be.

Crawford was stellar the first month of this season. He had some good games in November, but thats also when the inconsistencies started to show. Sometimes it was defensive mistakes that he couldnt make up for the Blackhawks defensive issues have been there plenty this season. But other times Crawford was allowing bad goals. It obviously hasnt set well with the competitive Crawford.

Its not very fun; its frustrating. Every second game seems to be a rough one for me, said Crawford. Im just trying to work hard, battle through it. Thats the only way I see getting out of it.

Quenneville isnt calling this a controversy. This is the first time Crawfords struggled in the NHL so its hardly that. But the Blackhawks are nevertheless going to address Crawfords ups and downs, and let him work his way through them.

Since hes been here, hes had the net and everythings been going great. So something like this (slump) gets your attention, Quenneville said. Thats why him and Steph work well. Its only a matter of time until he recaptures that confidence.

Crawford will work on it. He wont, however, mentally dwell on it.

I dont like losing, I dont like being pulled. But the worst thing I could do is start thinking about it too much and put everything on my shoulders, he said. Ill just keep doing what Ive been doing.

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.

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