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Corey Crawford steals a victory for Blackhawks in Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. — So the Blackhawks gave up 19 shots in the second period alone. So they spent the last 40 minutes on their heels, unable to hold their own blue line and unable to gain the other one. So they relied heavily on Corey Crawford to bail them out.

So what?

“I really liked those two points,” a smiling Joel Quenneville said after picking up his 750th career victory, a 3-1 nail-biter over the Carolina Hurricanes. “They were definitely necessary.”

It wasn’t the prettiest win of the year for the Hawks. Not by a long shot. Crawford had to make 43 saves — many of them harrowing — in order for the Hawks to sneak out with a victory. But coming off a dreadful 4-0 loss in Dallas, and with 10 games left in the season and a Central Division title to chase, it was good enough.

“We’ll win ugly if we have to, on the road,” said Jonathan Toews, who picked up his 500th point by blocking a shot for an assist on Andrew Shaw’s empty-netter in the final minute, Shaw’s second goal of the game. “We’ll do what we have to to win those tight games. We know we could have played better. … But sometimes you need two points like that.”

It looked like it would be a laugher early. Nine minutes in to the game, the Hawks had just two shots on goal, but two shots in the goal for a 2-0 lead. Shaw, left all alone in the slot, one-timed a centering pass from Marcus Kruger at 7:48. And 79 seconds later, Patrick Sharp tipped in a nifty Marian Hossa feed on the rush to make it 2-0.

But Carolina tilted the ice in the other direction in the second period, outshooting the Hawks 19-6 and getting a Victor Rask rebound goal after Crawford stopped an Eric Staal breakaway.

“I thought we had an excellent first period,” Quenneville said. “Then what we did to them in the first, they did to us in the second. We hung on there in the third. [Crawford] was solid, but I think we’ve still got to be better than that.”

The Hawks improved to 23-0-0 when leading after two periods, but it took a lot of Crawford saves, and a lot of desperate sweeps and blocks in the crease to accomplish it. Crawford downplayed the big shot totals, saying most of them were kept to the outside in low-risk areas.

With the win, the Hawks moved to within three points of first-place St. Louis, with a game in hand. The Hawks face the Blues twice in the final week of the season.

“We want to get home ice for the playoffs,” Crawford said. “Our building is a fun place to play in the playoffs. We just have to take it game by game, but we’re definitely chasing for first.”

Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com
Twitter: @marklazerus