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Blackhawks' Crawford takes blame for uneven play

by Dan Rosen

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was hard on himself after Game 2 against the St. Louis Blues, saying the defending Stanley Cup champions have no chance to get out of the Western Conference First Round if he doesn't improve.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville agreed, in a very matter-of-fact way.

"He said he needs to be better," Quenneville said. "He needs to be better."

Crawford has allowed eight goals on 83 shots (.904 save percentage) in 166 minutes in the series. He's made some spectacular saves, such as when he robbed Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko with a diving right arm stop in the second period of Game 1.

However, Crawford hasn't been able to come up with the big save when he has had to preserve a one-goal lead late in the third period or keep the game going in overtime. Four of the goals he's allowed have been off shots from the outside, and two have been directly off rebounds he left in front of him.

Crawford, speaking to the media Monday morning before Game 3 at United Center (8:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, RDSI, FS-MW, CSN-CH), was particularly frustrated at himself for allowing three goals in Game 2 that went in off of him.

"I touched three pucks that went into the net, and as a goalie it's kind of frustrating when those ones go in, when you get a piece of it," Crawford said. "Obviously our PK was pretty solid at the end of the game, blocking shots, keeping them to the outside, and to have that last one go in, it was pretty heartbreaking. It's just a matter of finding a way to make those saves. I mean, I was in position, maybe not on the second one, but for most of them I was in position, right there and getting a piece of it. It's tough when you play it that way and it still goes in."

He was well out of position on the second one, the goal from Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk with two seconds left in the first period that put St. Louis up 2-0.

Crawford had made a save on Blues forward Jaden Schwartz, but he was too far out to his left and couldn't get back across in time to get all of Shattenkirk's shot. He was so out of position that Shattenkirk said he saw Crawford's number and the name on the back of his jersey when he got the puck.

"He was facing the corner," Shattenkirk said. "He was way out of position and I knew that I just had to get the puck to the net. I just settled it and tried to rip it as hard as I could. I knew where I had to put it and I just gave it all I had. Luckily it beats the buzzer."

If Crawford is at all shaken by the goals, he's definitely not showing it. He was joking around and throwing tape balls when the media walked into the dressing room Monday morning.

"I'm always thinking about the next shot," Crawford said. "We review whatever needs to be reviewed the next day. We go over video, and if anything needs to be changed technically I'll do that with [goalie coach Steve Weeks]. Other than that it's just a matter of competing and worrying about the next shot."

Captain Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks forwards could do a better job of helping Crawford not have to worry too much about the next shot. Chicago has blocked 40 shots in the series, but its forwards have accounted for only 12.

Toews said they need to do a better job of laying out in front of the outside shots.

"Some of those late goals that have gone in, the D-men are doing their jobs of blocking shots, but as forwards we've got to do the same to help out our D-men," Toews said. "That's something we can improve on. We'll focus on it."


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