Ice-cool Corey Crawford comes up big against Avalanche
BEN MEYER-ABBOTT ON THE blackhawks October 20, 2011 10:54PM
Chicago Blackhawks v Colorado Avalanche
Updated: November 22, 2011 8:43AM
DENVER — Apparently, Corey Crawford is as calm and cool on the inside as he projects with his outward demeanor.
Faced with the top power play in the league with two minutes to play in the third period of the Blackhawks’ game against the Colorado Avalanche, Crawford only had one thing going through his head.
“Nothing,” Crawford said. “That’s one of the keys. My head is completely clear, and I’m just playing. I’m reacting out there and battling. That’s a fun way to play when you’ve got nothing going on in your head.”
Crawford came up with two of his 31 saves during the penalty kill before Marian Hossa sealed a 3-1 victory with an empty-net goal Thursday at the Pepsi Center.
“You can see that cool-natured style that he’s got,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “He’s an easygoing guy off the ice. Not a lot bothers him. I think it’s the same way on the ice.”
Crawford kept the Hawks in it in the first period despite his team being outshot 13-6. Crawford has been exceptional in first periods this season, allowing no goals in five games.
“I think it’s important,” Crawford said of his first-period performances. “Getting the first goal is huge. The percentage of teams winning after scoring the first goal is really high. You never want to be chasing during the game; you always want to get the first one.”
Crawford followed that up with an even better start to the second period. He repeatedly came up with big stops, including a double-save on Daniel Winnik and Gabriel Landeskog before Ryan O’Byrne scored on a puck that deflected off his body to tie the game at 1 with 3:58 left in the period.
“[Crawford] stole the game for us,” Hossa said. “He made some really key saves, and he was strong and kept us in the game.”
Crawford also got helped out in the second by defenseman Brent Seabrook, who tracked back to strip David Jones from behind on a breakaway. Seabrook also had a game-high six blocked shots.
Patrick Sharp scored the game-winning goal 7:20 into the third, when he peeled in from the left circle and fired past Semyon Varlamov after the Avalanche goalie had saved a shot from Andrew Brunette.
“I knew he was maybe not down and out but recovering to get back,” Sharp said. “I figured maybe a quick shot from the side there would sneak by him or create a rebound.”
Daniel Carcillo came to the Hawks wanting to show there was more to his game than a willingness to drop the gloves. He did his part to help shed that reputation with a sharp backhand pass that set up Toews’ first-period goal.
“That was a great play,” Toews said. “He was at the end of his shift, [Patrick Kane] came off and I had the time to skate all the way from the bench and go all the way to the zone. He and [Brunette] were still working the puck, keeping the play alive, and he had great vision with a little backhand pass.”
The Hawks have killed 10 consecutive penalties over the last four games, including both against the Avalanche.
“It was a great little two-game road trip for us,” Toews said. “We got four points — just what we needed — and we’ll go back to our own barn and finish off the week with a lot of energy.”