When Brent Seabrook looked across the locker room Wednesday night, he liked what he saw.
There sat goaltender Corey Crawford, quietly preparing for what would be by far the biggest game of his career — his first Stanley Cup Final appearance.
Against the vaunted Boston Bruins.
In front of a raucous house at the United Center.
Ah, no worries.
“Just looking at him before the game started, he looked ready, he looked confident, he looked excited to get out there,” Seabrook said.
Little could Seabrook or anyone else realize what lay ahead Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning as the Hawks and Bruins slugged it out in an epic 3-overtime battle.
“It’s, uh, it’s a little exhausting,” Crawford said after the 112-minute marathon “It was tiring. I’m not going to lie.”
But tired or not, as he has been throughout this playoff run, Crawford was the straw that stirred the drink for the Blackhawks, stopping 51 of the 54 shots he faced, many in spectacular fashion, en route to his 13th playoff win and more important, a 1-0 series lead.
“He won the game for us basically. It could have been over a long time before,” said Marian Hossa. “I think this is the best I’ve ever seen him play. It’s impressive; he’s playing so strong for us.”
The number of “How did he stop that?” moments Crawford provided in this one were too numerous to count.
Like his snapping glove save on Brad Marchand in the first period, or his pad save on Milan Lucic on a 2-on-1 in the third, or his 3-save spectacular in the final minutes of regulation — or the handful of no way! stops he made in all three OT sessions.
“I felt a little more zoned in,” Crawford said. “In OT you’ve got to make the next save or else it’s over, so just focus on everything and make sure the next one doesn’t go in.”
But did you ever wonder how some of those pucks didn’t actually go in?
“Nope, not one bit, man,” he said. “My job is to keep it out, so I don’t want to start doubting myself.”
His teammates certainly weren’t ... at all.
“He stayed even keel,” Seabrook said. “Nothing fazed him. That gives us confidence as players, especially as defensemen, when he’s playing that well — in a zone like that.
“I thought his overtime periods were unbelievable. He gave us an opportunity to come back and get chances and keep us in the game.
“He was huge for us.”
After more than 4 hours of hockeypalooza against the non-stop Bruins, it was a tired, but very satisfied Crawford who met with reporters.
“It was probably a great game for fans to watch, back and forth,” he said. “There were some scoring chances on both sides, some big hits — almost everything you could have in the game, it was there.”
“That was a great effort by both teams. It’s just shows that it’s little bit that gets you the win.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.