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updated: 11/17/2013 10:41 PM

Hawks' Crawford stronger than ever

Hard-working Crawford stays red hot in net

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  • Patrick Sharp scores a goal past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi on a penalty shot during the third period of the Hawks' victory Sunday night.

      Patrick Sharp scores a goal past Sharks goalie Antti Niemi on a penalty shot during the third period of the Hawks' victory Sunday night.
    Associated Press

  • Jonathan Toews, back, celebrates with teammate left wing Patrick Sharp (10) after Toews scored a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Chicago.

      Jonathan Toews, back, celebrates with teammate left wing Patrick Sharp (10) after Toews scored a goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Chicago.
    Associated Press

 
 

Corey Crawford didn't look like a guy who needed more rest on Sunday.

Appearing for the 19th time in 21 games, Crawford made 23 saves in the Blackhawks' 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Nikolai Khabibulin's poor play and now leg injury has forced Hawks coach Joel Quenneville to use Crawford more than anticipated, but the veteran goalie has responded with 13 wins.

Patrick Sharp scored 2 goals, the second coming in the third period on a penalty shot, while Brandon Pirri, Jonathan Toews and Kris Versteeg were the other goal scorers for the Hawks, who rebounded nicely from Saturday's disastrous 7-2 loss at Nashville.

"They're a fast starting team and I thought they were again in the first 10 minutes, but I thought we were better each and every period," Quenneville said. "We tried to limit their attack game and our attack game got better as the game went on.

"I thought it was pretty solid and a nice bounce back after a tough night."

It was Pirri's sixth goal of the season in only 16 games while Toews notched his 10th and Versteeg his first with the Hawks since returning in a trade with Florida.

Versteeg's goal was set up by Brandon Saad, who was stopped by Sharks goalie Antti Niemi busting in but shoved the rebound to Versteeg in front.

"The last time I was here was for Game 5 (of the Final) in 2010, and obviously I have a lot of great memories of this building," Versteeg said. "It's great to be back. There's so much energy playing in front of these fans. I missed it like crazy.

"It was emotional coming back, for myself, and last night definitely wasn't the way I saw coming back in my head, but tonight was very exciting. The guys put in a big effort and obviously we have to keep that going into the big road trip."

Quenneville liked the look of all four lines.

"I thought all lines made a contribution tonight to the team game," Quenneville said. "We're pleased. Last night wasn't indicative of how we played any game all year. It was one of those games, whether we were looking for an easy game or we didn't have any energy, we didn't play Blackhawk type hockey. We got outworked, but this was a good response immediately."

The Hawks' transition game was too much for the Sharks.

"When I look at the game, and obviously I haven't had time to re-watch it, we lacked a lot of energy that was needed to play this type of game," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said. "When you don't have energy, you better be sharp mentally and we may have been ever poorer in that area.

"There are a lot of teams that play against the Blackhawks and I'm sure the coaches are telling them the same thing, that turnovers kill you. That if their D-men get to move the puck up ice with their eyes up instead of turning, their counter-punch is incredible. We learned that lesson again.

"We didn't want to hear it or we didn't want to listen to it or we didn't want to buy into it. I don't know what it was, but we certainly played into their hand."

tsassone@dailyherald.com

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