Corey Crawford a cause for optimism as Hawks lose 2-1 to Devils in shootout
BY BEN MEYER-ABBOTT firstname.lastname@example.org March 27, 2012 10:24PM
New Jersey Devils' Travis Zajac (19) scores against Chicago Blackhawks' Corey Crawford in the shootout of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, in Newark, N.J. The Devils won 2-1. | AP
Updated: April 29, 2012 8:22AM
NEWARK, N.J. — The biggest thing is that the Blackhawks are finding a way to get results.
Despite a power play that continues to falter, despite a shaky start and despite being unable to capitalize on the few quality chances they were able to create, grinding out points like the one they got in a 2-1 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center will go a long way toward not only making sure the Hawks reach the playoffs but also are in the right frame of mind when they get there.
‘‘We’ll take the point,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘You’re looking in the rearview mirror. The priority is making the playoffs first. Obviously, we want to keep trying to move ahead, but there’s a lot traffic back there. We’ll take the point and keep pushing.’’
The Hawks need goalie Corey Crawford to play to the level he has showed he’s capable of if they’re going to stand a chance in the playoffs.
With his sixth strong performance in seven games — he stopped 21 of 22 shots, including 10 of 11 in an especially sharp first period — Crawford showed he can shake off an up-and-down season and lock in at the right time.
‘‘Crawford played great again,’’ center Patrick Kane said. ‘‘He’s playing awesome. We need him at this time of year, too. We saw how effective he was last year at this time. I don’t know what it is about this time of year for him, but he’s playing well and getting us some big points.”
In addition to Crawford, the Hawks have show a commitment to team defense in the games they’ve won or at least earned a point from in the last month, and they’ve trusted that the offense will eventually come around.
‘‘We had a bunch of chances, [Martin Brodeur] made some big saves, but that’s definitely the way you want to play after that loss we had last game,’’ said Crawford, who made a huge save on Zach Parise in overtime. ‘‘That’s another game where we just stick with it the whole way and eventually we’re going to get one somehow.’’
Brent Seabrook scored his eighth goal of the season 8:34 into the third period to help get the Hawks to overtime.
Patrick Sharp was the only Hawk to score in the shootout. Marian Hossa had a chance to win it but was stopped by Broudeur (37 saves), who improved to 7-3 in shootouts this season.
Kane, Viktor Stalberg and Andrew Shaw all failed to convert in the shootout before Travis Zajac netted the winner for the Devils.
The power play continues to be a cause for concern. The Hawks were scoreless on four chances with the advantage and actually took more shorthanded shots (two) than they had on the power play (zero) in the first period.
Beyond that, they failed to get a shot on goal in their last eight attempts on the power play, including a 5-on-3 for 1:08 at the end of the second period.
‘‘We [talked] about it before. Our power play has to be at least momentum if we don’t score,’’ Hossa said. ‘‘Five-on-three, we couldn’t settle the puck down, we couldn’t get a shot, and that’s unacceptable.’’