It had been 12 days since Corey Crawford had been sidelined with a suspected concussion, and people wondered if his first time back in net for the Chicago Blackhawks would show any signs of rust. His 1-0 shutout performance, in spite of the rest of the team not playing at their absolute best, in Sunday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets made everyone breathe a sigh of relief.
Coming into the game, Crawford had sat out four games, one of which was spent on bench door duty. In his absence, Ray Emery had extended his record and was in net the night that the Blackhawks made NHL history with their consecutive points streak. From the start of the game, any doubts as to Crawford readiness rapidly dwindled. After a few big saves, especially on Derick Brassard, he ended the game with 28 saves and his seventh career shutout.
The game in general seemed to become a battle of goaltenders, with both men in net making huge saves. Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason stopped 26 of 27 saves, including three tries, two of which were semi-breakaway shots, by Marian Hossa. Patrick Kane made a highlight-reel move from the right circle that would’ve extended the lead, but Mason made the pad save. In the end, it was Andrew Shaw’s wrister following a beautiful backhand pass from Bryan Bickell that slid past Mason and gave the Blackhawks the lone goal of the night.
The main question for the Blackhawks at the beginning of the season was if the goaltending would be any better than the previous season. With an 11-0-3 record and two shutouts under his belt, Crawford is answering that question very emphatically.