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Corey Crawford avoids repeat of 2012 nightmare

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Corey Crawford.jpgThe goal Corey Crawford allowed to give the Red Wings a 2-1 lead in Game 6 was so soft that even in victory, Crawford could only talk about it three times.

''Ahhh. I already answered it. I'm done with it,'' Crawford said when asked a fourth time about Joakim Andersson's shot from the top of the left faceoff circle the fluttered past him in the second period.

Crawford is understandably sensitive about the whole soft-goa thing. He allowed two of them that paved the way for the Blackhawks' playoff demise in the first round against the Phoenix Coyotes in 2012. And Andersson's would have haunted him for a long time had Crawford and the Hawks not recovered for a 4-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena.

''I just lost it. I lost it. It's a brutal one, obviously,'' Crawford said. ''But I was able to rebound after that.''

Indeed he did. Whether or not Crawford was on tilt after that goal, the Joe Louis Arena crowd was energized and the Red Wings smelled blood. They put five shots on the Hawks' goal in the next 71 seconds, forcing Crawford to make a pair of huge saves to prevent things from getting worse.

''Oh yeah. It's a huge momentum shift,'' Crawford said of the onslaught after Andersson's goal. ''Any time something like that happens, obviously the crowd got going and the team feeds off their crowd. Whatever. It happened. You just get past it and move on.''

Crawford ended up stopping 22 shots before allowing Damien Brunner's goal on a 5-on-4 situation after the Red Wings pulled goalie Jimmy Howard for an extra skater. By then, the Hawks had scored three goals and led 4-2.

''He came back strong,'' Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ''I thought he had some composure starting the third period. Our team was fine heading into the third period. [The Red Wings] definitely got some momentum in that second period. But I thought we regrouped going into the third and had a real nice period.

''Obviously, scoring definitely helped. But I thought the team, with Crawford, played an outstanding third period.''

The Blackhawks were 20 minutes from elimination after the second period. But Quenneville said there was no outward sign of panic in the locker room between periods.

''The room was fine,'' Quenneville said. ''We didn't change too much how we handle things. The players were fine when we went in and I don't know what was said when we weren't in there. But I do not think their demeanor changed one bit. The focus was like, 'We're going to find a way.'

That they did, and though Crawford played a part, the Hawks' unflappable goalie was grateful for the helping hand in bailing him out after allowing a soft goal.

''They've been great all series,'' he said. ''It's a little bit of a relief when the guys came back and played awesome and started the third period like that.''

As defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson indicated, the Hawks owed Crawford this one.

''We have a lot of trust in Crow,'' Hjalmarsson said. ''We knew he was going to make a couple of big saves right after and he did. He's been I think our best player in the playoffs so far and it feel really good to give back and turn this game around for him. He's been standing on his head a couple of games and saving our asses out there. It felt good to give it back to him.''

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Mark Lazerus was honored nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors for three straight years at the Post-Tribune, was named one of the top three columnists in Indiana for three straight years and has won more than 20 statewide writing awards. He has covered Notre Dame for Sun-Times Media, and now covers the Blackhawks.

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This page contains a single entry by Mark Potash published on May 28, 2013 8:17 AM.

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