Crawford helps Blackhawks beat Wild 3-1

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, left, and Minnesota Wild right wing Cal Clutterbuck vie for a lose puck behind the Blackhawks' net during the first period  Wednesday.

    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, left, and Minnesota Wild right wing Cal Clutterbuck vie for a lose puck behind the Blackhawks' net during the first period Wednesday. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 2/16/2011 11:53 PM

It was gut-check time for the Blackhawks in more ways than one Wednesday night.

Back at home playing a game they desperately needed to win -- and minus head coach Joel Quenneville, hospitalized earlier in the day with an undisclosed health issue -- the Hawks delivered the goods.

 

Led by goalie Corey Crawford's 33 saves, the Hawks turned back the Minnesota Wild 3-1 at the United Center to gain at least a bit of ground in the Western Conference standings.

"We just knew what we had to do and what Q would want us to do, and that's just go out and compete and work hard and not change anything," captain Jonathan Toews said.
Assistant Mike Haviland stepped in as head coach, and the Hawks played hard for him and for Quenneville.

"Havvy was great behind the bench," Toews said. "He had full control of everything and showed his experience as a leader and a coach and did a great job. Everyone just kind of filled in and we didn't stray away from our normal game."

Hawks defenseman Brian Campbell said Haviland's pregame talk was calming and got everyone ready to play.

"His speech before the game really got us prepared and he was great in between periods," Campbell said. "It made it very comfortable for us the whole day."

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Haviland, a head coach for seven years in the minors, downplayed his role in the victory, saying all he tried to reinforce before the game was how important it was for the team.

"I just talked about the importance of the game and a little bit about Minnesota and what we wanted to do in the game," Haviland said. "And then I just said, it's time. It's time for us to make a stand here. We know we can do it in this room and we just can't wait for tomorrow."

Crawford made a first-period, power-play goal by Campbell hold up through the first 40 minutes. Crawford made 25 saves through two periods, 17 of them in the first when the Wild carried much of the play.

The Hawks didn't seem to find their legs until late in the second period when they buzzed Minnesota goalie Jose Theodore trying for a second goal.

"Corey definitely held us in there," Haviland said. "Corey was outstanding through the whole game, but that first 10 minutes I think we were getting outshot 10-2. We turned it over an awful lot in our own end and seemed to be standing around smacking the puck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Certainly the power-play goal settled us in and we played pretty well after that."

Minnesota tied it at 1-1 on Matt Cullen's power-play goal 6:59 into the third period, but the Hawks responded 34 seconds later with their second power-play goal.

Troy Brouwer's centering pass for Marian Hossa from the right side deflected in off a Minnesota player in front.

Jake Dowell added an empty-net goal in the final minute on a feed from Dave Bolland, who had 3 assists.

"Tonight was kind of a game, I won't say we were putting our season on, but I think it had a big relevance on how our season is going to go the rest of the way," Brouwer said. "It was crucial for us in our quest to make the playoffs."