Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford make the save on Minnesota Wild Zach Parise in the second period in Friday's Game 2 at United Center. I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Best of seven
Corey Crawford isn’t the best goaltender story of the Blackhawks’ first-round playoff series against the Minnesota Wild — just the best goaltender.
After taking a back seat to the Josh Harding Story in Game 1,
Crawford clearly established himself as the difference-making goalie
Harding was effective early, but eventually wilted against an offensive barrage by the Hawks. But Crawford was better, especially when he had to be — stopping 26 of 28 shots in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 victory that gave them a 2-0 lead in the series.
The highlight of Crawford’s performance was his one-man penalty kill in the second period. With the Hawks leading 2-0, Crawford stopped five shots in a Wild flurry in front of the Hawks net — denying Zach Parise on four attempts from close range.
‘‘It happened so quick ... I’m not really thinking — it’s just reactions,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘Obviously you want to cover it up, but [the puck] was bouncing all over the place. I’m just trying to cover the bottom of the net and make sure nothing goes under me.’’
Moments later, Crawford made a stop on a redirected shot by Ryan Suter and made seven saves in all during the penalty kill.
It loomed larger when Devin Setoguchi took advantage of a defensive breakdown and beat Crawford with a point-blank shot from the right side to cut the Hawks’ lead to 2-1 with 2:03 left in the second period.
By the time the Wild scored again with 3:31 to play, the Hawks had built a 4-1 lead.
‘‘I’m zoning in and feeling good. Seeing the puck well,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘I made a couple of key saves at the right time when the game was 2-1. Other than that, our team just took over. Not that we played badly [in Game 1]. But we stepped up our game a little today. I don’t know how many shots we had , but we directed a lot of things on net. It was nice to get up by a couple of goals.’’
With the Hawks up 2-0 in the series, a bigger test awaits at Xcel Energy Center.
‘‘You always want to get off to a good start in the series,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘You want to win your games at home. We came out hard today. That’s the type of game we wanted from this team. We just want to carry this into their building.’’