CHICAGO – Corey Crawford is playing so well right now that nothing seems to bother him. When the Chicago Blackhawks had a goal waved off in the second period Sunday, Crawford picked up the slack for his disappointed teammates.
Crawford made 25 saves, Jonathan Toews had a big goal in the third and the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 in Game 1 of the Western Conference final.
Confidence has always been there, Crawford said. Really the first thing is being prepared, having that preparation to try and have my game at the highest level it can be each time I get out there.
He is on quite a roll right now, allowing only one goal in each of the past three games. Crawford, 29, leads the NHL with a 1.90 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in the playoffs.
He does a good job of never getting too high or too low because tomorrow’s another day, teammate Brandon Saad said. He did a great job tonight.
Saad had a goal and an assist for defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which remained perfect in seven home playoff games this year. Duncan Keith had a tiebreaking score in the third period.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night.
Playing just two days after a Game 7 victory over Anaheim, the Kings got a second-period score from Tyler Toffoli and outshot the Blackhawks 26-20 in the opener of a rematch from last year’s Western Conference final.
I think we can do a better job of getting in front of the net and make it harder on their goalie because we had some pretty good shots, but nobody was hanging around, so he was able to see everything, Kings center Anze Kopitar said.
With the Blackhawks clinging to a 2-1 lead in the third, Toews, Marian Hossa and Johnny Oduya got loose on a 3-on-1 break. Toews one-timed Oduya’s pass right by Jonathan Quick for his sixth playoff goal at 16:10.
Quick made 17 saves after he played a key role in Los Angeles’ rally from a 3-2 deficit in the series against the Ducks.
We had a chance, Los Angeles forward Mike Richards said. We shot ourselves in the foot a bit on their goals, and give them credit, they’re an opportunistic team. But we made a couple of mistakes and it ended up in our net.