Blackhawks Playoff Thoughts: If not for Corey….
NASHVILLE – He deserved better than the moment that occurred just around Midnight on Tuesday morning.
Kneeling for just a moment, he watched the gold jerseys rush to one corner of the ice in jubilation, joining in cheers from a crowd in similar colors. All the effort between the pipes wasn’t enough to keep his team from the most dreaded pair of numbers in playoff competition – 3 and 0.
Corey Crawford deserved better. He didn’t get it.
Early on in Game 3, he bought plenty of time for a struggling Blackhawks offense. Fueled by their crowd and strong defense against a lost Blackhawks’ offense, Crawford silenced the crowd by stopping all 17 shots in first 20 minutes to keep it scoreless.
That was enough to motivate his offense to finally get a pair of goals in the second period before bad luck set in on his net.
A slap shot ricocheted off the glass, near the top of the net and right on the stick of Filip Forsberg for a tap in that cut the deficit to 2-1. Later in the period, he got run into in front of the net which opened up another chance for Forsberg around the net to tie the game.
Interference could or couldn’t have been called. The rule left it up to the interpretation of the referees who didn’t overturn it in a review. Bad luck 2 Blackhawks 2 – not that fate matters in professional playoffs.
Then came overtime, where Crawford was at his best. Nashville peppered the goal with a number of quality chances that the goalie turned away for 15 minutes. Kevin Fiala had a point-blank look at an open side of the net with Crawford out of position, yet he reached out with the blocker to poke it off the post and out.
Crawford gave a number of lives to a sometimes lifeless Blackhawks attack, but his luck ran out on the ninth shot he faced in overtime. A turnover led to a 2-on-2 in the Blackhawks end, with Fiala taking a pass in front from James Neal and putting the game-winning goal home.
In the end, Crawford finished with 46 saves and did all he could to keep the Blackhawks from getting pushed to the brink of elimination. The oft criticized goaltender brought his best on Monday night and early into Tuesday morning to attempt to get the Blackhawks back in the series.
Fans should be appreciative of the effort given by the goalie, because they are not always as much as they should. Over the course of nearly 80 minutes of hockey, Crawford showed himself once again to be one of the elites in the NHL at his position.
His bad luck, however, showed this might not be the Blackhawks’ year as many had hoped just a week ago.