Corey Crawford was insulted by the question. He was insulted by the very idea that the Blackhawks were in such a fragile mental state that when a three-goal lead dwindled to one in the second period Sunday night against San Jose, they briefly might have thought to themselves, “Here we go again.”
“No,” he said following a 5-2 victory over the Sharks, shooting a glare at the reporter before repeating himself a little louder. “No.”
The Hawks are feeling just fine, thank you. The confidence is not shot, the panic has not set in. It helps that this time, they held on. This time, they righted the ship. And this time, maybe they allayed the fears of a fretful fan base just a bit.
“It was a good win in the fact that we grabbed the momentum in the first, then we lost it in the second,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “The best thing about it is we were able to fight through that and gain the momentum back. We can use that as we go forward.”
The victory, and the style in which they earned it, helped the Hawks put behind them the ugly manner in which they squandered a 2-0 lead in a 3-2 loss to Washington at home on Friday night. It was a good game, not a complete game. But maybe it was more valuable that way.
“Discount the five minutes in the second period against Washington and a stretch in the second period tonight,” Joel Quenneville said. “And in our last five or six games, for the most part, we’re almost there. Nailing it is a work in progress. We’re close to getting there, and the complete game is within our grasp.”
The Hawks built their lead from the back end, getting goals from Trevor van Riemsdyk, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson in a span of just 2:34. It was the first time three Hawks defensemen scored in a period since Nov. 27, 1992.
For van Riemsdyk, it was his first NHL goal. At least, for now. Quenneville thought Kris Versteeg got a piece of it, and a scoring change could be coming in the morning. But van Riemsdyk savored the milestone all the same.
“Yeah, it was a pretty cool moment,” he said. “I shot it and actually didn’t even know if it was mine or not. I heard it hit something kind of halfway through and I saw a bunch of our guys in front. I thought it might have gone off one of them. Found out it was mine, and it was pretty special.”
Seabrook’s goal was a welcome one, too, coming off the heels of his ill-timed pinch on Friday that triggered Washington’s comeback. Seabrook found himself dropped to the third pairing alongside David Rundblad, while van Riemsdyk played with Keith on the top pairing.
But less than a minute after Hjalmarsson made it 3-0, Joe Pavelski redirected a Justin Braun shot to cut the deficit to 3-1 — the third goal in an 82-second span — to stem the Hawks’ momentum and keep the game within reach. Pavelski cut it to 3-2 early in the second period with a power-play goal, and the Sharks, who were outshot 20-9 in the first period alone and who played a night earlier in Dallas, controlled play for the rest of the period.
A Crawford (32 saves) stop on a Barclay Goodrow breakaway allowed the Hawks to get to the third period still up, and another Crawford stop on Patrick Marleau preserved the lead until Bryan Bickell scored at 15:18 of the third and Jonathan Toews added an empty-netter.
“It was good to hold on there,” van Riemsdyk said. “It was nice to hold on and pull out a victory here at home.”