The Blackhawks needed only nine seconds to generate enough offense to overcome the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday night.
Both Corey Crawford and Roberto Luongo were fantastic, but it was Crawford that won the night, emerging with a 2-1 victory.
Goals by Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger only nine seconds apart early in the third period were the sum of the Blackhawks’ offense, but the two goals were enough. Crawford stopped 36 of 37 to pick up his league-leading 15th win of the season.
Crawford has now appeared in 14 straight Blackhawks games, but Saturday night was one of his better performances of the season.
Vancouver’s only goal came from Ryan Kesler while the Canucks had a two-man advantage late in the first period. With Brandon Saad already in the box, Shaw was called for tripping to give the Canucks the 5-on-3.
The Hawks killed the Canucks’ two other penalties on the night, but were unsuccessful on their two power plays.
Late in the third period, Alex Edler got his money’s worth slashing Jonathan Toews in front of the Vancouver net, and it took Chicago’s captain some time to get up. He appeared to be uncomfortable on the bench, but returned to take a few key faceoffs later in the period.
Toews won 10 of 19 faceoffs to lead another strong performance at the dot. Ben Smith had another strong game, which included winning five of seven faceoffs. He wasn’t credited with an assist on Kruger’s goal, but he chipped the puck up the ice to Kruger to create the scoring chance.
Kruger and Brandon Pirri both won six of 10 faceoffs in the game. Patrick Kane recorded an assist, extending his personal point streak to 10 games.
Brent Seabrook was the Hawks’ most physical player in a surprisingly tame game. Seabrook was credited with three hits and three blocked shots. Duncan Keith had a strong game next to Seabrook, skating a team-leading 24:39 with two blocked shots, two takeaways, one hit and one assist.
But the story of the game was Crawford, who was tested throughout and showed better rebound control than he had on occasions in recent games.