Corey Crawford (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
In what is likely the final game that the entire team will be on the ice during the regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Calgary Flames 3-1 at the United Center on Friday night.
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and Marcus Kruger scored goals for the Hawks, and Corey Crawford made 25 saves to key the winning effort.
Here are Madhouse Enforcer’s Three Stars:
Third Star: Patrick Kane
Kane came into the game tied for fourth in the NHL with 54 points this season, and he quickly jumped into third place by himself with his first period goal. The play, which came because of great ice awareness by Patrick Sharp on a dish from behind the net, was a great one, but it isn’t why Kane got this slot Friday.
The reason he did was because of his selfless play toward the end of the game. A lot of times, more elite players will look to dish the puck off to teammates who aren’t generally goal scorers when an empty cage is staring at them, and Kane didn’t break this tradition late in the game. He came to a virtual stand still at the red line, and tried to thread a pass to a streaking Brandon Bollig. Unfortunately, the pass just evaded him, and he wasn’t able to score.
It was still good to see Kane trying to help Bollig get a reward for what was definitely one of his better games as a Blackhawk, and it puts to bed any stupid rumors about Kane not appreciating his teammates.
Second Star: Marcus Kruger
Kruger has been maligned a lot this season because of his inability to win faceoffs, as well as his penchant for passing up quality scoring chances, but he turned back both of those accusations on Friday. Kruger ended up going 9-for-12 in the dot, and he also scored an excellent goal in the third period to give the Hawks a crucial insurance goal in the victory.
Kruger has bounced a lot between wing and center during the past few weeks, but if Friday’s game is any indication, then he very well could nail down the fourth line center slot even when/if Dave Bolland returns to the lineup from injury.
First Star: Corey Crawford
Speaking of players who have taken their fair share of criticism, Crawford has been absolutely bombarded with critique in the late stages of the season. People all over the blogosphere and among the Blackhawks’ rabid fanbase have been calling for his head, and have been aggressively lobbying for Ray Emery to get the starting job for the team.
On Friday night, Crawford displayed all of the traits that a fan could possibly want in their goalie. He was squaring up the puck incredibly well, showed excellent lateral movement between the posts, and stopped several quality Calgary chances in the game.
The only goal he gave up was an absolute snipe job that went top shelf after going through three different players in front of the net.
With Emery on the shelf, Crawford needed to have a good game as his team heads into the playoffs in order to establish some confidence, and he did exactly that in this one.