(SportsNetwork.com) – The red-hot Chicago Blackhawks are expected to get
another lift on Saturday night when starting netminder Corey Crawford returns
to action to face the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Crawford has missed Chicago’s past eight games with a left foot ailment,
though the Blackhawks went a healthy 7-1-0 over that span. Still, the return
of the 29-year-old netminder can only further help as he has gone 12-5-1 this
season with a 1.87 goals against average and .929 save percentage in 18
Crawford returns to a favorable matchup as well.
Chicago has won 13 straight over Columbus since a loss on Feb. 18, 2011, and
has a victory in nine consecutive trips to Ohio.
Crawford is 10-2-0 with a 1.82 GAA and .942 save percentage in 12 career games
versus the Blue Jackets. Saturday will mark his first start this season since
“I’ve been feeling real good in practice and working really hard. (The)
quickness is there, quick feet and recoveries to rebounds is there too. Right
now I feel good,” said Crawford.
Chicago as a whole should be feeling good considering Tuesday’s 5-3 win over
the Minnesota Wild was its 10th in 11 games. Patrick Kane had the game-winner,
a late power-play goal that came after the Blackhawks failed to hold a 3-1
Kane, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews all finished with a goal and two
assists, while Ben Smith scored into an empty-net and added an assist. Marian
Hossa also scored and Antti Raanta made 26 saves.
“You have to roll with whatever happens. Obviously you want to keep a lead
there, being up 3-1, but they stormed back,” said Smith. “They’re a good
hockey team. They make plays and found a way to tie it up. But (us) just
sticking with our game plan, sticking with what we did well in the second
period, scoring three goals, and it was nice getting that power play at the
“Our guys found a way to get the job done.”
Chicago got the job done despite defenseman Duncan Keith missing the game due
to illness. He did return to practice on Friday.
The Blue Jackets were among the league’s hottest teams over the course of
December, but had a seven-game win streak halted with a 5-4 overtime setback
to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. It was Columbus’ first defeat since
Nov. 29 and came in the opener of a five-game homestand.
Michael Chaput’s first career NHL goal had given Columbus a 4-3 lead with 4:25
remaining in regulation, but Troy Brouwer answered for the Capitals just 1:25
later to send the game into extra time and Eric Fehr potted the winner 42
seconds into overtime.
It marked the fifth straight game for the Blue Jackets that has gone to either
overtime or a shootout.
“I’m disappointed the way the game ended, because we had two leads, two
opportunities to earn a win in regulation,” said Blue Jackets head coach Todd
Richards. “It leaves you with a little bitter taste, just because there were
Nick Foligno scored twice — including the 100th of his career — and assisted
on Jack Johnson’s power-play goal for Columbus, which received 31 saves from
Sergei Bobrovsky in defeat.
Bobrovsky is 1-2-1 in his career versus the Blackhawks with a 2.76 GAA and
.921 save percentage.