Blackhawks win again! NHL record now 20 as Crawford leaves injured
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org February 28, 2013 9:20PM
Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews, right, is congratulated by Marian Hossa, of Slovakia, after Toews scored his second goal of an NHL hockey game during the third period against the St. Louis Blues, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013, in St. Louis. The Blackhawks won 3-0. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Updated: March 1, 2013 12:22AM
ST. LOUIS — There was legitimate concern in the Blackhawks’ dressing room during the first intermission Thursday night. After seeing goaltender Corey Crawford struggle to get off the ice, and watching as goaltending coach Stephane Waite told backup Ray Emery that he was going in for the second period against the Blues, there was definitely some concern.
But the concern was just for Crawford’s well-being, not for the team’s. These days, it seems nothing fazes the Hawks, who extended their NHL-record season-opening point streak to 20 games with a 3-0 combined shutout of the Blues.
“We’ve got thick skin,” said captain Jonathan Toews, who scored two goals, including one 12 seconds into the game. “Whether there’s momentum going against us, or a call that we didn’t like, or any sort of adversity that might get in our way a little bit, we’ve always been positive. We’ve been hungry and determined to win every single game, and I think you saw that again tonight.”
Coach Joel Quenneville said Crawford had an “upper-body” injury and he was “day-to-day.” He said there was “no defining moment or blow” that caused the injury but said it was not related to the one that recently kept Crawford out of four games. Quenneville said “he’s fine” and he’d travel back to Chicago with the team for Friday’s home game against Columbus.
Emery got the word that he was going in just a couple of minutes into the first intermission. And while the Hawks were worried about their teammate — “Hopefully, it’s just our training staff being cautious with him,” Toews said — the Hawks simply rolled with the adversity.
All Emery did was make 15 saves to complete the shutout. Crawford gets credited with the victory, and neither gets credited with a shutout. So Emery remains 8-0-0. In terms of sheer perfection, with no overtime or shootout losses, no other goalie in the league is better than 2-0-0.
“You’re kind of surprised when you get to go in in the second,” Emery said. “But you’ve got to be prepared for that. That’s why I’m there.”
It was the Hawks’ third shutout of the season and second this week after a nearly two-year drought. The Hawks have surrendered three goals in their last four games.
Emery said it was as complete a game as he’s seen the Hawks play all year. The Hawks got off to the ridiculously fast start, killed all four penalties against the league’s top power-play unit, got another big goal from their third line when Andrew Shaw chipped home a nice centering feed from Bryan Bickell and closed strong despite playing a feisty, physical division rival that out-hit them 34-14.
“We’ve had some good games,” Quenneville said. “But that might have been the best.”
The game couldn’t have started any better, as Toews scored what he thought was the quickest goal of his hockey life right off the opening faceoff on a tic-tac-toe passing play by Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad. All five Hawks touched the puck on the play.
Despite losing their starting goaltender after just 20 minutes, despite playing again without second-line center Dave Bolland, despite playing in a hostile arena against another team motivated by the desire to end their record run, the Hawks ended the game well once again, wrapping up their seventh win in a row and improving to a gaudy 17-0-3.