CHICAGO (AP) — Corey Crawford made 34 saves in his third career postseason shutout, and the Chicago Blackhawks got back into their playoff series with the St. Louis Blues with a 2-0 victory in Game 3 on Monday night.
Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger scored as the defending Stanley Cup champions bounced back after a pair of overtime losses in St. Louis. Toews’ 21st postseason goal was only the second score by a Blackhawksforward in the series.
Ryan Miller shook off another slow start and finished with 23 saves, but Toews’ shot at 4:10 of the first went through the goaltender’s legs and was costly.
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 goaltender to say he had to play better for Chicago to win.
Just two days later, he came up with one of the best games of his career.
Crawford seemed to be in the right place at the right time all night, drawing chants of “Co-rey! Co-rey from the capacity crowd at the United Center. He was helped by a sound performance by Duncan Keith and the rest of the Blackhawks’ defensemen, who stepped up while playing without the suspended Brent Seabrook.
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 is Wednesday night.
Each team was without a key contributor after Seabrook wiped out Blues center David Backes with a big hit in Game 2. The five-minute major and game misconduct penalty for Seabrook led to Vladimir Tarasenko’s tying power-play goal with 6.4 seconds left.
Seabrook was suspended for three games by the NHL, putting Sheldon Brookbank in the lineup for the first time in the series. Playing with Keith, Brookbank turned in a solid performance in his 19th career playoff game.
While Backes was held out with an upper-body injury, center Patrik Berglund returned for the Blues after missing three games with an upper-body injury. Berglund, who had 14 goals and 18 assists this season, skated behind the net for a nice wraparound opportunity in the first period, but was turned away by Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy.
Seabrook’s hit on Backes, and at least one knee-on-knee blow by Bryan Bickell, increased the tension between Central Division rivals. But Game 3 was surprisingly civil, with each team wary of another penalty that could swing the series. There was a lot of chirping from each side, and that was about it.
Looking for a spark, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville put Toews, Patrick Kane and Bickell on the same line for the start of Game 3. The trio had a lot of success in the Blackhawks’ run to the title last year.
The move worked.
Toews connected from the top of the left point in the first, beating Miller with a shot that might have deflected off the stick of Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Bickell also created a couple of quality chances with some slick passing.
NOTES: Blues F Vladimir Sobotka went to the locker room after he took a power-play shot off his right arm in the second, but he returned later in the period. … The announced attendance of 22,112 was the 268th consecutive sellout for the Blackhawks, counting the playoffs.
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