Crawford, Hossa lead Blackhawks to 2-0 win over Ducks
BY MARK POTASH Staff Reporter February 5, 2014 11:34PM
Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) attacks as Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller (1), of Switzerland, and defenseman Luca Sbisa (5), of Italy, defend during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Updated: February 6, 2014 1:39AM
ANAHEIM, Calif. — After a January malaise, the Blackhawks are back to doing what they do best — raising their game to meet the challenge.
Corey Crawford made 29 saves to earn his first shutout of the season and Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews scored goals as the Blackhawks beat the Anaheim Ducks 2-0 before a sellout crowd of 17,446 at Honda Center that included a large contingent of Blackhawks fans.
‘‘It’s great that we can set some goals for ourselves and find ways to step up our game, raise that level that we need,’’ said Toews, who scored his 19th goal of the season with 2:31 left in the game for a key insurance goal.
The Blackhawks were at their best when the situation was most dire. They fended off four Anaheim power plays — including 40 seconds of a 5-on-3 in the first period and a four-minute double minor to Michal Rozsival late in the second period.
Crawford made 11 saves on the penalty kill as the Blackhawks (35-10-14, 84 points) won their third game in four, improved to 3-0-2 on their six-game road trip and moved within one point of the NHL-leading Ducks (40-14-5, 85 points) in the Western Conference.
‘‘He was awesome,’’ Toews said of Crawford. ‘‘He was our best penalty killer and we needed him to be. You could tell he was engaged. Some of thsoe open-side plays where they’re getting second efforts and popping it to the far side, he was slding across and finding pucks all night.’’
It was a critical penalty-killing performance, considering the Hawks were playing without defenseman Johnny Oduya, who missed the game with a lower-body injury (Oduya is day-to-day, Quenneville said). Niklas Hjalmarsson had six of the Blackhawks’ 22 blocked shots. Rozsival had four. Eight players had at least one, including forwards Marcus Kruger, Kris Versteeg and Brandon Saad.
‘‘It was a solid game from our PK,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘We were able to kill off some huge penalties there. We were able to feed off it. Some great goals by Hoss and then a really key goal by Tazer at the end.’’
Defending the 5-on-3 in the first period seemed to turn the game in the Hawks’ favor. The Ducks were outshooting the Hawks 15-3 at that point. The Hawks had the final six shots of the first period, and took a 1-0 lead 43 seconds into the second period when Hossa took a nice pass from Patrick Sharp and stickhandled around Jonas Hiller to score his 24th goal of the season.
‘‘I felt good from the start,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘But I think everyone was able to weather the storm. You just kill those penalties off — that 5-on-3 was pretty important. I think that set the tone for the whole game.”
Hossa’s goal in the opening minute of the second period made a big difference. He took a pass in an open area in the slot from Sharp near the boards and, with Toews in front of the net, deftly worked the puck around Hiller’s left side into the net.
‘‘Great pass by Sharpie and even better play by Tazer taking the defenseman to the net and everything opened up for me,’’ Hossa said. ‘‘I tried to outpatient the goalie and put it behind his back.’’
The Hawks play the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on Friday to complete their six-game road trip and head into the 20-day Olympic break. They will be without Patrick Kane, who left the team Wednesday night to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Buffalo, N.Y. on Friday.
‘‘We’ve got one more game before the break. We want to have that same effort,’’ Toews said. ‘‘Play well as a team. Whether guys are going to the Olympics or going on a nice, little break, we can feel good about what we’ve done on this road trip.
‘‘So we’re going to be excited when we come back for that last stretch of games before the playoffs — and no added motivation [needed] there. I think everyone will be ready to go.’’