Corey Crawford was on the bench for a sixth straight game when the Chicago Blackhawks took the ice Tuesday night. In the end, he was in front of the net, raising his hands in triumph after helping Chicago beat the NHL-leading St. Louis Blues.
Ray Emery was pulled after giving up three first-period goals, and Crawford pitched a shutout the rest of the way — through two periods, overtime and then against three skaters in a shootout — to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 victory.
”I just had to make sure I had a key save at a certain time in the game,” said Crawford, who finished with 18 saves. ”I was hungry. … That’s a huge two points for us.”
Brent Seabrook tied the game with a third-period, power-play goal. Patrick Kane had the only goal in the shootout, and the Blackhawks rallied from a 3-1 deficit and ended the Blues’ five-game winning streak. St. Louis lost despite getting 43 saves from Jaroslav Halak.
Kane was the first skater in the tiebreaker and made a nice fake before beating Halak with a shot between the goalie’s legs. Crawford, stopped T.J. Oshie, Andy McDonald and David Perron to finish off the win.
”I was talking to (Marian) Hossa on the bench and said, `I think I’m going to go backhand top shelf.’ He said, `No, go backhand, five-hole,”’ Kane said. ”I listened to Hoss. He knows a thing or two.”
Seabrook’s long slap shot from the blue line on a power play sailed past a screened Halak and tied the game at 7:41 of the third. The score came on Chicago’s fifth power play, and ended the Blues’ streak of consecutive penalty kills at 51.
”I had a tough time seeing it. Their second goal, too,” Halak said.
The Blackhawks had six power plays overall in the rugged and physical game.
”It’s obviously tough to win a game when we’re in the penalty box a whole lot. Today, too. We play the same guys on the penalty kill as much as we do on the power play,” Blues forward Patrik Berglund said.
”It’s frustrating, you get tired, especially when you’re in the box that long in those important minutes in the third. I think we gave them momentum to get back in the game. It’s our fault and we didn’t respond back, this is what happens.”
Jamie Langenbrunner, McDonald and Berglund had goals in the first period for St. Louis.
”The lead came too easy to us. We didn’t have to work for it,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said.
”They were coming at us, and we were on our heels, and we stayed on our heels most of the night,” he added. ”When we had the lead 3-1, we started playing with skill over work, started turning the puck over at the offensive blue line, that gave them all the momentum.”
Chicago’s Andrew Brunette opened the scoring, and Viktor Stalberg added a goal in the second period.
Halak, who had won eight straight, made nice stops on Kane and Hossa in overtime. Kane had two other chances in the closing seconds of the extra period.
The Blues managed only six shots in the first period, but three eluded Emery as St. Louis quickly erased a 1-0 deficit.
Brunette took a nifty pass from Hossa that split two defenders and then skated in and beat Halak at 2:51 of the opening period.
But the Blues responded 59 seconds later as Langenbrunner rifled a long shot from beyond the right circle that beat the apparently screened Emery.
About three minutes later, McDonald took a nice back pass from Perron and drove the puck past Emery for a 2-1 lead. Berglund then tipped in Barrett Jackman’s hard shot from the left point to put the Blues up by two late in the first and prompted the goalie change between periods.
Emery has taken over for stretches this season when Crawford, who was supposed to be the starter, has struggled. This time Crawford came in to relieve.
”In a tough spot, the game’s on the line, you haven’t played in a while, we know the importance of it, and (Corey Crawford) responded the way we were hoping he’d respond. That’s good for him and great for us,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.
Chicago got a goal late in the second when a shot by Marcus Kruger deflected off Halak. The puck hit Stalberg’s instep and then went between the goalie’s legs to make it 2-1.
Notes: Chicago captain and star Jonathan Toews missed his 11th straight game with a concussion. … McDonald scored his ninth goal of the season and fourth against the Blackhawks. … The chippy first period included two fights, including one between Chicago’s Brandon Bollig and the Blues’ Ryan Reaves with four seconds left, following Reaves’ hard check on Jamal Mayers.