Blackhawks Beat Ducks 2-0, Crawford Gets First Shutout of Season

By Austin Knoblauch, Special to the Tribune12:02 a.m. CST, February 6, 2014

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Blackhawks were expecting a hard-fought, low-scoring affair against the NHL’s top team Wednesday night, and that’s exactly what they got.

They also got a lot of help from Corey Crawford and Marian Hossa.

Crawford recorded his first shutout of the season and Hossa scored early in the second period to help lift the Blackhawks to a 2-0 victory at Honda Center. Jonathan Toews scored the Hawks’ second goal with 2 minutes, 31 seconds to go in the final period, his 19th of the season.

Hossa netted his 24th goal and assisted on Toew’s score for his 14th and 15th points in 13 games. He has made a habit out of not practicing on the Blackhawks’ six-game trip and it seems to be paying off.

While Hossa was instrumental in giving the Blackhawks the lead, Crawford did everything possible to keep them there.

Crawford made some spectacular, point-blank saves among his 29 in lifting the Blackhawks to their third victory in four games. With one game to go before the Olympic break, the Hawks moved to within one point of the Ducks for league lead.

Despite having to endure another physically daunting game against the NHL’s best on the road, the Blackhawks found a way to send the Ducks to their fourth loss in five games and win the season series 2-1.

“These teams (out West) are notoriously known for being a little bit bigger and stronger,” said Kris Versteeg, who was temporarily downed on a big open-ice hit by the Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri that drew an interference penalty in the first period. “In the end, you’re going to battle every night no matter who you play against. The bumps and bruises are a part of the game.”

Crawford backstopped a strong penalty-killing effort on a four-minute Ducks power play when Michal Rozsival took a double-minor high-sticking penalty on Patrick Maroon late in second. Crawford made several strong saves, including a sliding cross-crease stop on a Corey Perry shot in the period’s closing seconds.

The Ducks continued to pepper Crawford with shots in the third, including a near-miss on Daniel Winnik’s short-handed attempt. In the end, nothing seemed good enough to derail Crawford from securing his ninth-career shutout.

Things got off to a rocky start for the Hawks in the first period when penalties to Andrew Shaw and Brent Seabrook led to a 40-second, 5-on-3 advantage for the Ducks. Despite giving up several shots, which included a couple of prime scoring chances for Perry, the Hawks managed to kill off the penalties.

Crawford played a big role in keeping the game scoreless in the first, making two close-range shots on ageless sniper Teemu Selanne before stonewalling Andrew Cogliano on a breakaway in the closing moments. Turnovers were the culprit on each of the scoring chances — the Hawks had six giveaways in the first.

One-timers: Coach Joel Quenneville said there’s a “possibility” Patrick Kane could miss Friday’s game against the Coyotes to attend his grandfather’s funeral. … Kane’s three-point performance against the Kings moved him into a tie with Chris Chelios for 16th (488 points) on the Blackhawks’ all-time scoring list. He will surpass Troy Murray for 15th with two more points. … Defenseman Johnny Oduya was not in the lineup Wednesday because a lower-body injury. … Marcus Kruger ranked eighth in the NHL in faceoff percentage (56.9) heading into Wednesday while Andrew Shaw, Brent Seabrook and Brandon Bollig were tied for the team lead in hits with 127. … The Hawks had the NHL’s best record (13-0-6) against the Pacific Division.

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