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Blackhawks hope Crawford plays within week

Injured goalie shooting for game before playoffs begin

by Brian Hedger / Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Injured Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford got on the ice for some work with goaltending coach Jimmy Waite during an optional practice Saturday.

Crawford has missed seven games with an upper-body injury but has shown good progress in his recovery. The next step will be participating in a full team practice, which the Blackhawks hope will happen soon. 

"We'll get a better idea [after he practices], but we expect him [back] at some point," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hopefully he gets in a game before [the playoffs]. He felt good the last couple of days. Good to see him out there on the ice. [He was] good while he was out there and good afterward. It's a big first step here and I think he did a good job with it."

Crawford was on pace to set an NHL career high in games played (59); he was 35-18-4 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in a career-high 56 starts.

Video: Call of the Game: Crawford stops Lewis

Scott Darling will make his ninth straight start Sunday against the Boston Bruins. Darling has been solid handling the starting role, but Crawford was a potential Vezina Trophy candidate.

"He's big part of the team," Quenneville said of Crawford. "[He's] having a great year, and the importance of goaltending in the playoffs gets magnified. He's been through some great tests here, and challenges, and we're looking forward to him [returning]."

The Blackhawks have three games remaining after Sunday: at home Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues and Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes, and at the Columbus Blue Jackets on April 9. The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin April 13.

Chicago forward Marian Hossa, who has 499 NHL goals, returned to practice after missing a 5-4 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday with an illness, but forward Andrew Shaw was absent. Shaw left the game against the Jets with an upper-body injury and will not play Sunday.

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