Blackhawks beat Coyotes in shootout in goaltending bonanza
Corey Crawford and Antti Raanta combined for 83 saves, including a handful of spectacular ones, but it was Crawford who maintained his excellence through the shootout.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Moments after making the last save of the shootout in the Blackhawks’ thrilling 3-2 victory Saturday against the Coyotes, usually stoic goalie Corey Crawford grinned.
‘‘[There’s a] little more open hockey around the league, and it’s nice to have one where it’s not so many goals, more saves,’’ he said.
Crawford and former backup Antti Raanta, now the Coyotes’ No. 1 goalie, went back and forth all night, trading brilliant saves for 65 minutes. The teams combined for 87 shots on goal (45-42, Hawks) and 67 scoring chances (34-33, Coyotes), yet the two goalies conceded only two goals each.
Raanta made a spectacular save to deny Hawks wing Brandon Saad of a potential game-winner — and a hat trick — late in regulation, then robbed wing Dominik Kubalik on a breakaway in overtime, among a number of other great stops. But Crawford eventually came out on top, stopping both shots he faced in the shootout while Hawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane scored against Raanta.
‘‘It looked like we were flying out there, [especially] for a team that took more than a week off,’’ Crawford said, referring to the All-Star break and the Hawks’ bye. ‘‘You think you’re going to have slow legs, but that wasn’t the case. Everyone was playing hard and really at the top of their game.’’
That Crawford even started the game was an unexpected and gutsy decision by coach Jeremy Colliton, who has favored Robin Lehner heavily in recent weeks but said he wanted to reward Crawford for his recent solid play.
Colliton also deserves significant credit for the new line of Saad and Kane centered by rookie Kirby Dach. It was created by the lineup shuffle prompted by center Dylan Strome’s return.
Saad scored two goals, Kane had two assists and Dach had an assist as the trio notched 12 shots on goal in 11 minutes at five-on-five.
‘‘You talk about all three of them, as far as how valuable they are to the team,’’ Colliton said. ‘‘Kirby keeps getting better. Very active, skating well. I thought that line . . . created a lot going forward. Pretty good defensively and just adds a different dimension to our team.’’
Colliton had said Thursday he figured the break especially would help players such as Saad, who returned from injury shortly beforehand, and that proved to be prescient. Saad’s first goal, a short-side snipe on a one-man rush, was especially impressive.
Dach, meanwhile, subtly has improved his underlying statistics throughout the season, even though his production has been subpar, and this new line is a big opportunity for him to fix that problem.
Strome back in lineup
Strome returned, as anticipated, from his seven-game absence caused by an injured right ankle. He played just more than 14 minutes, a few below his usual workload, as a wing opposite Alex DeBrincat on a line centered by David Kampf.
Kubalik earns rookie honor
Kubalik was named the NHL’s rookie of the month for January for a torrid stretch in which he emerged as one of the Hawks’ top weapons.
Kubalik had 10 goals and 14 points in 10 games in January, starting the month with a three-assist outing before scoring a goal in seven of his next eight games, including three two-goal nights.