Darling, Blackhawks brace for Canucks (Jan 22, 2017)
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks appear to have a bit of a goaltending dilemma on their hands.
With starter Corey Crawford struggling and backup Scott Darling fresh off his second shutout of the season, coach Joel Quenneville faces a decision about who he will rely on in net Sunday when the Vancouver Canucks visit the United Center.
Quenneville remained non-committal on who would start against Vancouver. The Canucks are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games, but have won two straight after Friday night's 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers in which captain Henrik Sedin became the first player in franchise history to reach 1,000 career points.
Darling played well earlier this season when Crawford missed 10 games after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. In Friday's 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins that was decided by Marian Hossa's late goal, Darling staked his claim for more playing time with 30 saves.
Darling hasn't allowed more than a goal in each of his last 11 starts while Crawford has surrendered three or more in six of his last seven appearances.
"(Darling) certainly helped himself in a big way with a big game and a big 60 minutes," Quenneville told reporters after Friday's victory, according to the Chicago Tribune. "That first 20 (minutes), he definitely kept us in the game. They get one or two early, and we could've been behind the whole game. He put us in a good spot late and did what he had to do. He was big in the net."
Despite his strong play, Darling isn't necessarily looking to usurp Crawford as the Blackhawks' primary goalie.
"I don't know if you guys know who my goalie partner is, but he's one of the best in the world, hands down, no arguments," Darling told reporters on Friday, according to the Tribune. "I'm just pretty happy to get any games I can."
Vancouver got its own strong performance in net against the Panthers. While Sedin contributed a goal to the victory which got him to the 1,000-point plateau, Ryan Miller made 34 saves on 35 shot attempts to help preserve the victory. Miller was coming off a perfect 30-save win against Nashville, which propelled him into Friday's win when the Canucks pulled out the victory despite being outshot by Florida.
Sedin's goal, which knotted the game at 1, was the story, however, as the veteran became the seventh active player to reach 1,000 career points. Sunday's game will include two of the seven as Chicago's Hossa is also on the list. Hossa notched his 500th career goal for the Blackhawks earlier this season.
The Vancouver bench cleared after the goal as Sedin became only the 38th player in NHL history to register all 1,000 points with the same franchise.
"When I saw my teammates come on the ice, I lost it a little bit," Sedin told reporters after Friday's victory.
"It was very special. If I retired today, I think that was the most memorable moment for me as a player."