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Corey Crawford is on his game but gets night off

Corey Crawford made 28 saves before making 10 more during an 11-round shootout against Dallas Stars Friday. | LM Otero/AP

Corey Crawford made 28 saves before making 10 more during an 11-round shootout against the Dallas Stars on Friday. | LM Otero/AP

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Updated: January 2, 2014 6:50AM

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Corey Crawford got a well-earned night off on the last night of the circus trip, less than 24 hours after he survived an 11-round shootout in a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Friday.

It was the third straight game in which Crawford allowed just one goal, a welcome return to form after the goaltender struggled a bit through much of November, giving up three or more goals in five of his previous six starts.

“It’s kind of the way we saw him play at the start of the year, and all last year,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Good response to a couple of ordinary games for him. I think he’s back where we want him.”

Besides allowing just one goal in 11 shootout attempts, Crawford also stopped an Alex Chiasson penalty shot while the Hawks were trailing 1-0. He’s now 4-for-4 on penalty shots this season, and 10-for-10 in his career. Crawford couldn’t really explain his remarkable penalty-shot success.

“We work on it sometimes in practice, but I don’t know,” he said. “It’s a key situation in the game and that’s important. If we go down by two goals, it’s a different game. You just want to try and come up with a save and keep your team in it.”

Quenneville said the plan was always to start Antti Raanta on the second night of the back-to-back set to close out the trip.

Round and round

The unusual nature of Friday’s never-ending shootout in Dallas, with unlikely players getting chances and fourth-liner Ben Smith scoring the winner, was an argument both for and against the tiebreaker system. It was almost comical, but it also was great entertainment.

“You could argue all day, but the people like it,” Quenneville said. “They loved it, actually.”

Third and long

The Hawks entered the second third of the season with Saturday’s game at Phoenix, and find themselves with the most points in the league, and the most goals scored. While there are some obvious deficiencies compared with last season — the penalty kill is second-worst in the league, the depth isn’t quite what it was, and until recently, the Hawks were giving up far too many goals — Quenneville feels he has a good assessment of his team now, and he likes what he sees.

“I like the balance of our team,” he said. “The lines are coming into a better rotation than when we first started. There’s more predictability in our team. I like how we’ve been checking, I like what we’re giving up. Offensively, we’re generating enough.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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