BY KEITH GAVE — For the Sun-Times
DETROIT — Corey Crawford, last seen in an NHL game when he shut out Tampa Bay to clinch another Stanley Cup title, was back on the job Wednesday night in Detroit in a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. But he spent most of his evening standing around.
Crawford faced just eight shots through 30:35 of play, allowing one goal. He can blame his young teammates for pressing the action at the other end.
“I thought we had a good 40 minutes, good pace, a lot of nice plays,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a lot of traffic around the net. We didn’t have quite the finish they had, but I can’t fault the effort. For the most part, I like how we played.”
While Crawford’s teammates kept the Wings pinned in their own zone through much of the first period, launching 13 shots on Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek, the Hawks goaltender saw just one shot from a Detroit forward -— Tomas Tatar — in the first 20 minutes, and it went in.
Justin Abdelkader scored on a breakaway during a Detroit power play to break a 1-1 tie against Michael Leighton (14 saves), who relieved Crawford with 9:25 remaining in the second period.
Tatar added the other two goals, including an empty-netter. All three of Tatar’s goals were assisted by former Hawks center Brad Richards.
Andrew Shaw scored the lone Chicago goal.
In a 5-4 victory the evening before, Crawford’s goaltending partner Scott Darling stopped all 22 shots he faced from the Wings in the first 30 minutes. Rookie Mark Visentin gave up all four Detroit goals in relief before the Hawks won in overtime.
Crawford and Darling can expect to see plenty of action as the preseason continues.
“It’s important that they get some games. Both guys will get two games each,” Quenneville said. “It’s good that they feel the rubber, and that they get some three-on-three (overtime) play.”
Moving forward, Quenneville said, his goaltenders are likely to get full games in preparation for the regular season.
The Hawks, 1-1, continue the preseason Friday against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Stars stay home: With most of their stars suiting up for the preseason opener at home the night before – and showing up in the scoring summary, too – the Blackhawks took a young and experienced team to Detroit for the rematch Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena. And the kids were all right.
Coach Joel Quenneville was looking for a certain work ethic from his team against a veteran Detroit team.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys here tonight, and they all know there’s a lot of opportunity for them,” Quenneville said before the game. “So what we expect is a lot of hard work.”
And that’s exactly what he got. Chicago’s lineup featured just four players on the roster during the Stanley Cup finals just over three months earlier. Yet the young Hawks buzzed the Detroit zone for 13 first-period shots on goal while limiting Detroit to just five.
Lettermen: Missing most of their regulars, and with all of their designated leaders taking the night off, the Hawks pinned an “A” on the sweaters of veteran forwards Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Tomas Kopecky, a former Red Wing, to serve as alternate captains.
Bickell started the game on a line with Shaw and Viktor Tikhonov. Other early line combinations Quenville sent over the boards: Vincent Hinostroza centering Daniel Paille and Kopecky; Mark McNeill centering Mike Liambas and Graham Knott; and Tanner Kero centering Brandon Mashinter and Ryan Hartman.
Familiar face: The first penalties of the game went to former Hawks’ center Brad Richards, who took a double minor for high-sticking and roughing on winger Mike Liambas, a journeyman minor-leaguer in camp as a free agent, early in the first period.
After helping Chicago to an NHL title, Richards signed a one-year, $3 million free-agent deal with Detroit in July.
A remarkable comeback: “Mr. Hockey” was in the house for Wednesday night’s game between the Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
Red Wings great Gordie Howe, 87, rehabilitating from a near-fatal stroke last October, has been helped in his recovery by stem-cell therapy he underwent in Mexico, according to his son, Murray, a Toledo physician.
After visiting the Wings’ dressing room before the warm-up, Howe watched the game from the owners’ suite with several family members.