Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Toews and Crawford Shine in OT Loss to Avs

By George Clifford
Dec 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save on Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) during the third period at the United Center. The Avalanche won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 23, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) makes a save on Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie (4) during the third period at the United Center. The Avalanche won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jonathan Toews breaks scoreless drought and Corey Crawford stopped 32 shots, but the Chicago Blackhawks fall to Colorado 2-1 in overtime.

Despite a brilliant 32-save effort by Corey Crawford, the Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t hold a third-period lead Friday night against the struggling Colorado Avalanche, who went on to beat the ‘Hawks 2-1 in overtime. Jonathan Toews notched his fifth goal of the season and Crawford stopped 32 of 34 shots as Chicago claimed a point to enter the three-day Christmas break still on top the Central Division with a record of 22-9-5.

After a humbling loss to the dangerous Avs, who came into the UC desperate to turn around a five-game winless streak, Blackhawks fans have some chestnuts to savor around their holiday tables.

Crow flying high.

Playing in his first action in 22 days, Crawford literally stood on his head against the Avalanche, putting to rest any worries over his complete recovery from emergency appendicitis and pushing his record in goal to 12-6-3. Working from a 1-0 lead early in the second-period, Crow made a series of diving, lunging, and sprawling short-handed saves to preserve the ‘Hawks’ slim lead going into the third frame.

After Colorado tied the game early in the third on a tip-in by Mikko Rantanen, Crawford kept the ‘Hawks in it with a huge save against Colorado captain Gabe Landeskog, and then stoned winger Blake Comeau’s heartstopping breakaway bid to get the ‘Hawks to overtime. Unfortunately, Nathan MacKinnon beat Crow high glove-side 25 seconds into overtime to claim the game’s extra point for Colorado.

With backup Scott Darling now a time-tested winner and Crow back in top form, the Blackhawks have got to be feeling confident heading into the meat of the schedule with one of the league’s very best tandems in net.

Johnny Be Good.

Toews’ second-period powerplay goal broke a 13-game scoreless drought, and the Blackhawks’ captain turned-in a superior performance at the dot winning 71 percent of his draws. The puck is starting to find him like a bad penny, and Toews took full advantage putting seven shots on goal.

Although his production this season so far is underwhelming – five goals and ten assists in 27 games – Toews showed Friday night he’s still a dominant force on the ice, winning board battles, powering his way to the net, and generally creating havoc at both ends of the ice. This game may have signaled a major turn of fortune for one of the NHL’s best two-way players.

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Depth charge.

The Blackhawks rookies have come on strong in December, notching 12 points this month which shares third in the league for production. Although it was the veteran line of Toews, Artemi Panarin, and Patrick Kane that scored the ‘Hawks’ lone goal Friday night, the depth players combined for 15 shots on goal and eight hits against the Avs.

Now they need to channel that energy into points. Tyler Motte had two grade-A chances in the first-period, but failed to get a shot on goal, and was quickly demoted to fourth-line duty. The ‘Hawks’ checking line had another good outing, generating chances and drawing the penalty after which the ‘Hawks scored their powerplay goal. This line was on the ice, however, for Colorado’s game-tying goal.

One-timer. With the primary assist on Toews’ goal, Artemi Panarin pushed his current point streak to seven games.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks, NHL 3 Stars: Panarin Posts Stellar Week

OK ‘Hawks fans – take some time to enjoy the holiday break then saddle up as the Blackhawks get ready to host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, December 27th. Merry Christmas!

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