Corey Crawford carries Blackhawks with Game 3 shutout - FOX 35 News Orlando

Corey Crawford carries Blackhawks with Game 3 shutout

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Give the Blackhawks credit, they did what was needed and defeated the Blues 2-0 in Game 3. It is probably more accurate to say Corey Crawford did what was needed. If Crawford has to play any better for the Hawks to win this series they could be headed for a long summer vacation.

After Game 2, Crawford called himself out and took the blame for both playoff losses. Crawford remarked he must be better and shouldered responsibility. Joel Quenneville then echoed Crawford’s comments and mentioned his goaltender needed to improve his play.

No matter who motivated who, Crawford was the best player on the ice in Game 3 and couldn’t have played any better. Once again, the Blues had more scoring chances and also outshot the Hawks 34-25.

In the most important column, the Blackhawks tallied two times with Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger recording goals. Toews sent what appeared to be a harmless wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle and it snuck under Ryan Miller’s pads. Toews scored at the 4:10 mark of the opening frame. Kruger capped off the scoring by sending the puck into an empty net with 20 seconds remaining in the third period.

In every game this series the Hawks come out and played with energy for about four minutes. Last night, as has been the case, the intensity didn’t last and that allowed the Blues to gain momentum.

After Toews scored on a shot that should have been saved, the Blackhawks didn’t attack the net and pressure Miller. That would have been the time to test a shaky goaltender, but Miller wasn’t required to make another save for over seven minutes.

The Chicago attack disappeared primarily because the passing was poor. The United Center ice is often not great, and at this time of the year it can be outright bad. Between the Bulls playing at the UC, the humidity and warmer temperatures, subpar ice conditions are going to happen.

It appeared it was more than the ice as the Hawks couldn’t string passes together. Some players like Brandon Saad looked uncertain and either missed connections or turned the puck over. St.Louis has to be credited for playing solid defense and breaking up plays, but the Blackhawks weren't very sharp.

So between not being able to push the pace by moving quickly through the neutral zone and a dismal power play once again, the Hawks offense sputtered.

The power play had some different faces with the absence of Brent Seabrook, and that had something to do with the lack of potency. It’s more difficult to find a reason for the poor passing but at times the Hawks looked fatigued. Without crisp passing, the Hawks lose their speed and are more easily defended.

For the Blackhawks to advance beyond this round they will need to get a second wind, both physically and mentally. Crawford can’t do anymore than he did on Monday night.

St. Louis played a solid road game and did so without their captain David Backes, who was out with an upper body injury. The word I’m hearing is Backes doesn’t have a concussion but is suffering from a neck issue. His status for Game 4 is not known.

Toews had a more noticeable game as he was reunited with Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell. That line was good and Quenneville didn’t wait too long to play his trump card. He started the game with the Toews line but the Chicago offense still couldn’t muster more than one goal on Miller.

One of the better Blackhawks was Michal Handzus. Although Handzus isn’t an offensive threat, he has to stay in the lineup because he is a very good penalty killer. Handzus logged 3:45 of ice time while shorthanded and was credited with three blocks plus one assist. Handzus led all forwards in shot blocks and also had the most ice time while killing penalties of any skater.

Sheldon Brookbank took Seabrook’s place in the lineup and had a fine game. Brookbank recorded 14:32 of ice time and blocked two shots. Brookbank played 1:38 more than Nick Leddy.

Duncan Keith had his best outing of the playoffs and seemed less interested in playing a chippy game. Keith logged 27:27 of ice time, which led all players. He was credited with an assist, and recorded three blocks plus two shots on goal.

Some of the Chicago worker bees raised their level of play in Game 3. Kruger, Andrew Shaw and Ben Smith all played effectively. The Chicago lineup of forwards was the same as those who played in previous games.

Marian Hossa had a nice outing, and was on the ice for 19:47 of which 2:07 came while shorthanded. Hossa was held without a point but had four shots and three hits.

The good news for Blackhawk faithful is with a win on Wednesday night there will be another contest on home ice with Game 6. It will also mean the Hawks have turned this series into a best two out of three affair.

It could also be good news the Blackhawks are back in the series and still haven’t played their best hockey. The question is, will the Hawks be better or are the Blues standing in the way of improvement?

Game 4 will likely provide the answer.

I will be back on Thursday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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