Corey Crawford has had his good and not-so-good outings the last couple of weeks. On Sunday, he was at his best.
Crawford stopped a season high 42 shots and Trevor van Riemsdyk's second-period goal proved to be the game winner as the Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks snapped a two-game losing streak and are now one point behind the Wild, whom they've beaten in the last three games, in the Western Conference.
Patrick Kane had a goal (his 30th of the season) and an assist), as did Artemi Panarin.
If you didn't see Sunday's game the score would be a bit misleading. The Blackhawks did a lot with a little, getting those four goals on 22 shots. Credit their offense for an incredibly fast start. Kane scored just 51 seconds into the game and Panarin's 22nd goal of the season a few minutes later gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead at 4:38. More surprising is Wild coach Bruce Boudreau pulled Devan Dubnyk after that second goal (the Blackhawks had just two shots at that point). Boudreau told the media following the game that he didn't think Dubnyk was following the puck well.
Boudreau may not have meant to spark the Wild but it looked like he did. From that point on the Wild were relentless, firing 44 shots, many of good quality, on Crawford. Sharp from the start, Crawford kept the Blackhawks from losing their lead.
"I think that was a big game for us," Crawford said. "After two losses, coming back against one of the best teams in the league, some big points for us there."
Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford was, "terrific."
"Fortunate start there, couple of quick goals. We slowed down as the game progressed there and Crow made some great saves, big saves," Quenneville said. "The second period, we were fortunate to come ahead there."
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Indeed, the Wild had 20 of their 44 shots in that second period and came up with nothing thanks to Crawford. Meanwhile a Wild gaffe gave the Blackhawks, up 2-1 to start the second, a 3-1 lead by the end of it. Ryan White was going to be called for a tripping penalty on Jordin Tootoo. White stopped playing but the whistle hadn't blown, Marcus Kruger grabbed the puck and passed to van Riemsdyk, who gave the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead.
"I was the beneficiary of two great plays, Toots taking the guy with him and Krugs coming up and laying it to me on the back door," said van Riemsdyk, who also scored against Detroit on Friday. "It would've been pretty hard to miss that so I just wanted to guide it in. Didn't want to mess it up."
Marian Hossa scored his 22nd of the season, a breakaway spurred by a Duncan Keith pass, late in the third period.
The Blackhawks overall did not play their best game of the season. They took advantage of a good goaltender having a tough start. They took advantage of a mistake in the second period. And they rode Crawford, who saved his best of the season for one of the biggest games of the season.
"Huge game by Crow tonight, but I think overall we want to be better as a team and I think we have 14 games left to make sure that happens and feel good about ourselves going into the playoffs," Kane said. "We'll see what happens now. I know they've got a game in hand on us, but we're right there. So, we'll see."