Blackhawks' Crawford has nothing left to prove
The overdue, absolutely-can-do Steven Stamkos had already banged a shot off the post.
And now the Tampa Bay sniper had a breakaway early in the second period of a scoreless Stanley Cup Final Game 6 at the United Center on Monday night.
Corey Crawford never bit.
The Blackhawks goalie slid to his left, hugging the post, and stopped Stamkos.
"I just had to stay patient," Crawford said. "I didn't want to make the first move against him. I just tried to get my pad out there and try to take away the bottom half of the net."
Stamkos failed to score a goal in six games in the Final. And the center wasn't alone in his lack of productivity. In shutting out the Lightning 2-0 to win their third Stanley Cup in six years, the Blackhawks yielded just 10 goals in six games. Crawford stopped 25 shots in the finale, with 14 coming in the third period.
"He was awesome. He was unbelievable," said Patrick Kane, whose goal late in the third sealed the win. "Any word you can use to describe him. He was special. He's one of those guys that nothing fazes him, nothing really bothers him, whether it's a goal or a media column or things like that. He just keeps stopping pucks. He battles in the net. We're lucky to have him."
There is no book on how to stop a dangerous scorer like Stamkos, who has had a 60-goal season and 51-goal campaign. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, Stamkos had 43 goals this season, and 7 more in this year's playoffs.
"He's one of the best players in the world," Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling said. "He's an amazing goal scorer. That (breakaway save) was a great play by 'Crow' to stay with it."
The underappreciated Crawford tied Tony Esposito for most playoff victories by a Blackhawks goalie at 45. Crawford is now the only goalie in team history to win a pair of Stanley Cups.
He stopped 80 of the last 82 shots the Lightning fired at him.
"There's nothing to say anymore," defenseman Johnny Oduya said of his goalie. "I think we're done talking about his performance. He's won the Jennings Trophy (team with fewest goals allowed) twice. He's won the Stanley Cup twice. I'm not going to ask any more tough questions about Corey Crawford."
Jonathan Toews will say more.
"We're not here if it weren't for guys like that who put their own ego aside time and time again," the Blackhawks captain said. "He's not out here to be loved by the fans. He sticks it out no matter what. There's a couple of games where the media, the fans put everything on his back. He absorbs it and he keeps going and he bounces back.
"We tried as a team to help him out," Toews added. "We had some great help early on in the playoffs from Scotty Darling, but as a team we knew we had to be better and (Crawford) just got better and better as we got closer and closer to this point."