COLUMBUS—In just his second game back after a nearly 10-month absence, Corey Crawford showed he is already in top form.Crawford stopped 37 shots to get his first win since late December, and Patrick Kane had two goals and an assist, as the Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 Saturday night.
”It was nice to see him play like that,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. ”It was vintage (Crawford).(He) is under the radar. … We value his contribution to the success of this team, to keep us in games, winning games for us. He is as good as there is in the game.”
Crawford was playing his second game since a season-ending concussion suffered in a win at New Jersey last Dec. 23. He gave up three goals on 30 shots in a 4-1 loss at home to Arizona on Thursday night.Crawford said despite his lengthy break, he felt as comfortable as ever in net.
”It felt really good,” Crawford said. ”I think everyone was playing hard, rebounding, taking away sticks. It was a great effort by everyone.”
Alex DeBrincat and Marcus Kruger also scored for the Hawks, who earned a point for the sixth time in seven games (4-1-2).Zach Werenski scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky finished with 22 saves.With the score tied 1-1, the Blue Jackets appeared to take the lead late in the first period when Boone Jenner forced the puck low past Crawford on the left side, but the goal was waved off for pushing the goalie into the net.Kruger put the Blackhawks ahead for good when he tipped a wrister from Alexander Fortin past Bobrovsky at 7:43 of the third.
”I thought we played a really good hockey game, our best of the year,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. ”We just lost our patience the last five minutes.”
Kane then got his sixth goal of the season from the middle of the left circle with 4:14 left, after a costly turnover in the neutral zone by Columbus’ Cam Atkinson.Kane’s empty netter with 1:37 remaining capped the scoring.The Blackhawks got on the board at 3:48 of the first period with their first shot of the game, as DeBrincat buried a pass from Dominik Kahun from the front of the net. The goal extended DeBrincat’s scoring streak to seven games.The Jackets pulled even when penalties to the Blackhawks’ Henri Jokiharju and Atkinson opened up the ice for Werenski, who carried the puck from the red line and fired a wrister that beat Crawford with 7:51 left in the opening period.
”Their goalie was hot, and we weren’t bearing down,” Werenski said. ”We weren’t hungry enough. We played a pretty good hockey game. We just have to be hungry around the net.”
NOTES—Kane and DeBrincat are now tied for the Blackhawks’ lead in goals (7) and points (11). … Brandon Davidson, a veteran of 152 NHL games with Edmonton, Montreal and New York Islanders, made his Blackhawks debut. …. Columbus has scored in six of its seven first periods this season. … Bobrovsky was playing in his 400th career NHL game. His career record fell to 220-132-36.