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Blackhawks' Crawford sticks up for Toews

by Dan Rosen

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was tied up with Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford in a scrum midway through the third period Sunday night when a teammate came to his defense.

It wasn't the guy Toews expected to see grab Clifford's head. After all, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford doesn't typically try to be an enforcer.

"The guy grabbed him, got a couple free shots," Crawford said after making 29 saves in a 4-2 victory in Game 2 that gave Chicago a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Final. "I figured it was enough. I just decided to go in there and grab his head."

And so that's what he did. The 21,824 inside United Center noticed it, too, and when they showed Crawford on the scoreboard the fans started chanting, "Corey, Corey, Corey."

"Spontaneous combustion," is how Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville put it. "Sometimes you can't forecast or predict that stuff."

"The boys loved it on the bench," Chicago center Andrew Shaw said, "and obviously the fans loved it, too."

Crawford's involvement didn't last very long before linesman Steve Barton came in to break him away from Clifford, but the message he sent to his teammates was clear.

"I wasn't expecting that. It should be the other way around, but it's playoff time and he's showing his true colors that he's going to step in and help a teammate out no matter what," Toews said. "It's a pretty cool thing to see your goaltender get in like that."

Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier noticed it, too. He came out to his blue line and put up his hands, perhaps his way of asking Crawford if they wanted to have a goalie fight.

That never happened.

The officials cleaned it up and Toews actually ended up with an extra minor for roughing, putting the Kings on the power play. Crawford's record stayed clean, but Patrick Kane said some of the Blackhawks couldn't stop laughing on the bench.

"Looked like Bernier was going to skate down and try and fight Crawford," Kane said, "but he's playing great and then sticking up for his teammates, too. What more can a guy do?"

Not much when it comes to Crawford, who has been sensational for the Blackhawks. He now leads the NHL with a 1.67 goals-against average and his .938 save percentage is second only to Jonathan Quick's .940.

"The biggest thing is he hasn't shown any satisfaction," Toews said. "He keeps improving and he's as focused as he's ever been. He's been unbelievable since the start and obviously is our go-to-guy right now."

And their new enforcer.

"That, too," Toews said with a laugh.


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