CHICAGO—Corey Crawford was there every time.
Slapshots, wristers, backhands, and tips, he stopped each one of them.
The Chicago Blackhawks needed a rebound game from their goaltender—and he delivered in a big way.
Crawford made 34 saves in his third career post-season shutout as the Blackhawks got back into their playoff series with the St. Louis Blues with a 2-0 victory in Game 3 last night.
“I’m just going shot by shot,” Crawford said. “It’s all I could do the whole game was worry about the next one, and focus on the next shot and stop that.
“I don’t want anything else going through my mind through that hockey game.”
Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger scored as the defending Stanley Cup champs bounced back after a pair of overtime losses in St. Louis.
Toews’ 21st post-season goal was only the second score by a Blackhawks’ forward in the series.
“Three games in a row. It’s been a very intense series and extremely close,” noted Blackhawks’ coach Joel Quenneville.
Ryan Miller shook off another slow start and finished with 23 saves, but Toews’ shot at 4:10 of the first went through the goalie’s legs and was the only score for most of the game.
“It’s not a good goal. We’ll leave it at that,” Miller said.
It was quite a turnaround for Crawford, who was upset with his play after Saturday’s 4-3 loss.
Barret Jackman’s winning goal in Game 2 went through Crawford—prompting the goalie to say he had to play better for Chicago to win.
Quenneville met with Crawford on Sunday and he responded with one of the best games of his career.
“We have a lot of one-on-one meetings throughout the season, but we get ramped up at playoff time,” said Quenneville, a former NHL defenceman.
“I generally stay away from the goalies.
“We chatted,” he added. “Basically I was commending him on accepting that responsibility [for the loss].”
Crawford was helped by a sound performance by Duncan Keith and Chicago’s defencemen, who stepped up without the suspended Brent Seabrook.
“We knew this was going to be a long series but we really played hard, we really played well,” said St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock.
“We did a lot of the things we needed to do to win the hockey game, but you’ve got to give their goaler credit,” he added.
“He was good, especially late.”
The Blues, who scored tying goals late in regulation in each of the first two games, pulled Miller with 57 seconds left but the Blackhawks held on.
Kruger stuffed home an empty-netter in the final seconds.
Game 4 goes tomorrow night.
In other Western Conference action, Minnesota nipped Colorado 1-0 (OT) and Dallas blanked Anaheim 3-0 to trail their respective series 2-1.
In the East, Pittsburgh edged Columbus 4-3 to lead their series 2-1.