After what some would say was a minor setback in the season after losing three straight, the Blackhawks returned to action on Sunday night and showed their dominance over the Florida Panthers, 6-2.
The victory however, came at a cost as starting goaltender Corey Crawford left the game in the middle of the first period with an apparent lower-body injury. Crawford was replaced by backup Antti Raanta.
Coach Joel Quenneville did not expect Crawford’s injury to be too serious, but suggests any injury concerns him.
“I haven’t talked to the [doctors], but I don’t think it’s too serious,” Quenneville said to chicagoblackhawks.com. “When it’s a goalie, it’s a little more serious than other players because of how important he is to our team.”
Besides Crawford’s injury, the Hawks came out, for the first time in a few games, with a sense of urgency and passion to start.
The Hawks opened up the scoring in the first period with a power play goal by Patrick Sharp 13 seconds into the power play. Sharp moved to the top of the point and received a one-timer pass from Patrick Kane and whipped it in to put the Hawks up 1-0.
The Hawks went up 2-0 later in the first period when Brent Seabrook nailed a slapshot past Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen. Seabrook’s goal was his first since October 1st against the Washington Capitals.
Then 30 seconds into the second period, forwards Sharp and Marian Hossa were on a two-on-one when Sharp shot the puck toward Clemmensen and Hossa cleaned up Sharp’s rebound to put the Hawks up 3-0.
Things got a bit interesting later in the second period after former Hawk Dylan Olsen scored to cut the lead to two. Then after Raanta made a costly rookie mistake when he cleared the puck to Panthers center Marcel Goc, Goc made him pay by firing a wrist shot past Raanta to make the Hawk lead only 3-2.
But that is all the Hawks and backup goalie Raanta would need.
The Hawks scored three more times with goals by Michal Handzus, Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad to finish off the Panthers.
Raanta looked better in net and proved that he could come in off the bench when needed to and perform well. Besides the small hiccup with the turnover to Goc, Raanta gave few rebounds and made some key saves when the game was closer in the second period.
Crawford will be re-evaluated by team doctors on Monday and we should hear more on the extent of the injury then.
The Hawks travel back to Dallas tomorrow to face the Dallas Stars. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. (CT) and can be seen on Fox Sports-SW and CSN-Chicago.
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