Blackhawks make things easy for Raanta
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With Corey Crawford out for three weeks with a right-leg injury, it's going to be Antti Raanta's net for the Blackhawks.
The Hawks made it as easy as possible for the rookie Tuesday night with a 6-2 rout of the host Dallas Stars, who had 4 shots in the first period. The Hawks gave Raanta a 5-0 lead in the second period.
"Obviously, when you start like that you can build off it," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters. "He had a nice second period as well."
Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad each had 2 goals in the win, all of them coming in a 4-goal second period.
Michael Kostka and Patrick Kane scored in the first period. For Kane, that's points in 18 of the last 19 games; he finished with a goal and 2 assists Tuesday.
"We had a great start," Quenneville said. "We did a lot of good things: pucks and bodies and quickness, transition and finish and across-the-board contributions, so it was a very good night."
For Kostka, it was his first appearance after missing 24 games with a foot injury. "He played good," Quenneville said. "He had the puck and was offensively involved. It was a good way to get back in there."
The Hawks also killed every Dallas power play, making them 10-for-10 in the last two games.
"We'll say baby steps, but hopefully we get some confidence off it and trend the other way," Quenneville said.
Kostka opened the scoring just 2:04 into the first period when he beat goalie Kari Lehtonen with a shot from the right side that just trickled over the goal line. The goal withstood a video review.
Kane made it 2-0 later in the period with his 17th goal. It came on a breakaway created by Brent Seabrook's sweet backhand pass out of his own end.
The Hawks chased Lehtonen after Sharp's power-play goal made it 4-0 in the second period.
Sharp and Saad got their second goals of the period against Dan Ellis. Sharp's second goal came on a breakaway on a slap pass from Duncan Keith.
The Hawks announced before the game that Crawford would miss three weeks with the leg injury he suffered Sunday against Florida. The Hawks went into the game against the Stars with two rookie goalies in Raanta and Kent Simpson.
"Crow's probably out a couple three weeks," Quenneville told reporters at the morning skate. "(Raanta) has handled it well. When games have been on the line he's been solid for us. You like his approach and his competitiveness. This will be a good test for him."
Simpson was recalled from Rockford on Monday and was Raanta's backup against the Stars.
"This is what you work all summer and your whole life for, I guess, is to get this opportunity and show you can play at this level," Simpson told reporters. "This is where you want to be."
The ball will be in Raanta's court at least until Crawford or Nikolai Khabibulin return from their injuries.
"I just have to keep working hard and earning the minutes," Raanta said. "Even though I have the No. 1 spot now, it's nothing if you go there and aren't ready to play.
"Now it's up to me what's happening. It's pretty weird to think that one month ago I was still in Rockford and now I'm here and everybody it putting me in the net. This is my chance to prove I belong here."
Crawford was 17-6-3 this season. Those 17 wins tied him with Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury for the NHL lead.
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