Crawford, Blackhawks PK stymie Anaheim 2-0

By Jon Fromi

Corey Crawford recorded a shutout Wednesday night to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-0 road victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Crawford’s 29-save effort, along with some outstanding penalty killing, allowed Chicago to make goals from Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews hold up against the NHL’s point leader.

First Period-Anaheim came out the aggressors and generated some chances in the opening minutes, though the Hawks gained a power play midway through the period when Kyle Palmieri was called for interference on Kris Versteeg. Nothing came of the opportunity despite a couple of early shots on goal by Versteeg and Brent Seabrook.

With eight minutes remaining in the opening period, Andrew Shaw was called for hooking Sami Vatenen coming around the Ducks net. Seabrook tripped up Palmieri to give Anaheim a 5-on-3 for 40 seconds. Corey Crawford withstood Ryan Getzlaf and Cam Fowler teeing off on the net until Shaw got out of the box. Crawford and the Blackhawks also killed the remaining penalty time.

Both Crawford and Jonas Hiller did a nice job preventing rebounds in the first 20 minutes. In addition, several potential opportunities for both teams evaporated due to a lot of bouncing pucks. Andrew Cogliano beat the Hawks defense to a loose puck and nearly scored the game’s first goal. However, the attempt was wide of the net and the period ended scoreless.

Second Period-The Hawks found twine 39 seconds into the middle frame. Marian Hossa hit Patrick Sharp with a long pass out of the defensive zone and hustled up the ice to get the puck back from Sharp. Hossa patiently waited out Hiller and stuck it in behind the Ducks goalie to put Chicago up 1-0.

The Ducks responded with a dominant shift in the fourth minute, though they couldn’t tie the game despite pinning the Hawks in the defensive zone. Versteeg had an attempt stopped by Hiller in the eighth minute. Hiller gloved a high shot by Jonathan Toews two minutes later.

Shaw was penalized for the second time in the game when he upended Teemu Selanne and was whistled for kneeing at the 11:07 mark. Chicago came up with a strong penalty kill with nice clears by Hossa and Niklas Hjalmarsson.

Chicago had to call on the PK unit again in a more dire situation late in the period when Michal Rozsival caught Patrick Maroon with a high stick, drawing a double minor with 3:49 left. The Hawks came up huge to keep Anaheim out of the net, killing all but the last 11 seconds of Rozsival’s infraction as time ran out in the second. After 40 minutes, the Chicago advantage was still 1-0.

Third Period-Chicago finished off the Ducks power play then set about building on the one-goal advantage. Shaw got a rebound at Hiller’s doorstep but couldn’t find the net in the fourth minute. Anaheim pressured the Chicago net in the eighth minute but couldn’t get a shot to Crawford.

Palmieri had an excellent chance go wide of Crawford after Getzlaf and Fowler were stopped. Matt Belesky got behind the defense but was denied on his backhand attempt. Belesky ran into Crawford and was hit with an interference penalty. A Hossa turnover nearly resulted in a shorthanded Anaheim goal. The Hawks prevented the equalizer but failed to convert on the power play.

Crawford blockered away a Corey Perry attempt from the slot with just over seven minutes to play. Versteeg set up Patrick Kane for a backhand attempt with 5:52 left after a nice takeaway but Hiller was up the challenge.

Entering the final three minutes, the Hawks spent some time in the Anaheim zone and got a offensive zone faceoff when Hiller had to cover a loose puck. After the resulting draw, Hossa knocked Fowler’s pass attempt down in the right corner and hit Toews at the top of the right circle. The captain skated in and zipped the puck past Hiller’s stick side to give Chicago a 2-0 lead with 2:31 to play.

Hiller went to the bench with 1:50 to go but the Chicago defense snuffed out Anaheim’s last bid to complete the shutout and the win.

Three Stars-Hampus Lindholm (third), Hiller (second), Crawford (first)

Thoughts

-Crawford came out of the warm up with what looked like a hand issue but returned in time to stop all 15 Anaheim shots in the first period as well as the other 14 shots he saw over the final 40 minutes. Crow recorded his first shutout of the season and his first since April 13, 2013 against the Blues.

-I’m still trying to figure out how the Anaheim press box missed Hossa on the ice tonight. He only set up and scored the first Chicago goal, then set up the second goal. But, hey, Lindholm did have two shots on goal and was a minus-one on the night. Toews, Hossa, and Crawford make a lot more sense for the three stars.

-Chicago blocked 22 shots on the evening, including Hjalmarsson and Marcus Kruger sacrificing their bodies to stop Ducks attempts.

-I had the choice of watching Dan Roan on WGN during the first intermission or the last 20 minutes of Pulp Fiction on AMC. On second thought, I guess it really wasn’t a choice.

-The Hawks closed the gap between themselves and the Ducks to a single point with a big regulation win on the road. Chicago has a chance to hit the Olympic break on a three-game winning streak with a win in Phoenix Friday night.

Lines

Sharp-Toews-Hossa
Versteeg-Handzus-Kane

Saad-Shaw-Bickel
Bollig-Kruger-Smith

Keith-Seabrook
Hjalmarsson-Rozsival
Leddy-Brookbank

Crawford

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Jon Fromi

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