Blackhawks fall to Sharks; Crawford leaves game with concussion

 
 
Updated 12/17/2018 7:03 AM
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  • Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford looks on during the first period against the San Jose Sharks Sunday at the United Centero. Crawford left the game with 1:30 left in the first period after the back of his head struck the right post during a goalmouth pile-up.

    Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford looks on during the first period against the San Jose Sharks Sunday at the United Centero. Crawford left the game with 1:30 left in the first period after the back of his head struck the right post during a goalmouth pile-up. Associated Press

By any account it's been an incredibly tough season for the Blackhawks.

The coach was fired after 15 games, they've suffered through two eight-game losing streaks and have had a difficult time playing consistent hockey under new coach Jeremy Colliton.

Incredibly, things only got worse Sunday when Corey Crawford was the victim of a vicious collision and removed from a 7-3 loss to San Jose late in the first period.

The injury occurred during a fast-developing play when San Jose's Evander Kane forced Hawks forward Dylan Strome into Crawford. After Strome collided hard with Crawford's head, the Blackhawks' goalie fell backward and his head hit on a post.

Coach Jeremy Colliton said Crawford suffered a concussion, but he couldn't provide details on how much time his goaltender might miss.

"Great goaltender, great guy, important part of the team," Colliton said. "We'll see. We hope for a quick recovery."

Crawford, of course, was put on injured reserve almost exactly a year ago with a concussion that kept him out of game action for almost 10 months. Given his history -- and the speed and intensity that he was hit with Sunday -- it seems likely Crawford will miss a significant amount of time.

"He's probably the guy that's worked the hardest and held us in (games) the most over the season," said defenseman Connor Murphy. "Anyone getting hurt and especially (like that), it just (stinks). Crow's such a big part of our team and to lose him, it's not good."

Colliton and Strome did not blame Kane for what happened.

"He's the second guy if there's a rebound," Strome said. "He's driving me in, and unfortunately I hit Crawford. Obviously I couldn't get out of the way or else I would have. …

"Lot of guys in a little space. Stuff happens."

Crawford allowed 2 goals and made 6 saves. Ward (30 saves) allowed the other 5 tallies.

The Hawks actually had leads of 2-0 and 3-2 thanks to goals by Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Brendan Perlini, but the Sharks (18-11-5) scored 5 unanswered goals and owned a 43-20 shots-on-goal advantage.

"The second period was terrible," Murphy said. "Our 5-on-5 play, we didn't have any passion, we didn't play simple enough, we turned it over. And our special teams, we didn't have enough urgency either. So it was (overall) not good."

Crawford is having the worst statistical season of his career, but anybody who has watched the Hawks this season knows why he was 6-14-2 with a .903 save percentage entering Sunday's action.

"He's been great," said Duncan Keith. "He's been everything that we could ask from him.

"We definitely don't give our goalies much support out there. I think they've made saves when we've needed them to.

"It's hard when we give up a lot of Grade A scoring chances. Everybody can shoot it now."

The Hawks (10-19-6) close out a four-game homestand against Nashville (22-10-1) on Tuesday.

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