Corey Crawford did what good goaltenders are supposed to do Saturday night. He bailed out his teammates when they weren’t at their best.
With Crawford making 24 saves, the Blackhawks held off Columbus 3-2 at Nationwide Arena to raise their record to 5-0 to start the season.
It’s the first time the Hawks have been 5-0 since 1971-72 and the first time they’ve won their first four games on the road since 1966-67.
“Crow was really big for us tonight and that helped us,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after the win. “He’s been solid every game. He looks big and looks in control. When games are on the line, he looks in charge. He’s finding pucks and I like his composure at critical times. His mind is in the right place and his attitude has been good.
“Finding ways to win is important. You’re not going to be at your best every night.”
Crawford admitted he’s in a groove.
“The puck is looks pretty big right now,” he told reporters.
Crawford and the Hawks appeared to catch a break in the second period when referee Dan O’Rourke wiped out what would have been a goal by Columbus to make it a 2-2 game.
Derick Brassard beat Crawford with a long slap shot, but O’Rourke ruled Nick Foligno interfered with the Hawks’ goalie off the crease.
Quenneville thought the right call was made.
“I saw the video, the right call was made,” Quenneville said. “His (Foligno’s) skate picked him from coming across the crease right before. He couldn’t get over.”
Foligno said in an interview between periods that O’Rourke told him he interfered with Crawford.
“He told me I bumped him and didn’t give him time to reset,” Foligno said.
Patrick Kane continued his great play with 2 more assists, giving him 9 points in five games.
Kane set up goals by Dave Bolland and Jonathan Toews, which turned out to be the game winner at 6:35 of the third period.
Toews beat Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason with a nifty deke in front on a feed from Kane. Toews was late to clear the attack zone, but it turned out to be a good thing for the Hawks when Marian Hossa forced a turnover. The puck wound up with Kane, who found Toews all alone.
“He’s gotten off to a great start and I commend him as well,” Quenneville said of Kane. “He’s played very well and has been consistent in his game. I think he’s paying attention without the puck as well. He anticipates well when pucks are vulnerable.”
Bryan Bickell also scored for the Hawks on a deflection of a shot by Niklas Hjalmersson. It was Bickell’s first goal of the season. Hjalmarsson finished the game plus-3 with an assist.
“It definitely wasn’t our best game, but we’re going to have nights when maybe we’re not clicking like we have been,” Toews said. “We got caught flat-footed a few times here and there. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we have to be better prepared than that.”
Quenneville wouldn’t say for certain if Crawford would start Sunday’s game against Detroit at the United Center, but he left the door wide open.
“He could,” said Quenneville. “We’ll see.”
Usually, when Quenneville says that, it means yes.
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