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Blackhawks’ goalie Corey Crawford made 32 saves, 33 if counting streak

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) deflects shot by Detroit Red Wings center Damien Brunner (24) during shootout an NHL

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) deflects a shot by Detroit Red Wings center Damien Brunner (24) during the shootout of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Detroit. The Blackhawks won 2-1. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

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Updated: March 3, 2013 10:41PM



DETROIT — For much of Sunday afternoon, Corey Crawford didn’t have much to do. Nearly halfway through the game, he had seen just five shots, and his biggest challenge was keeping his head in the game.

Then he spent the rest of the game standing on it.

Crawford, last seen stumbling out of the crease and lurching off the ice at the end of the first period Thursday night in St. Louis, returned to the Blackhawks net and put forth perhaps his best game yet in a season full of superlative efforts. Crawford made 32 saves — several of the eye-popping variety — and blanked the Red Wings in the shootout in Sunday’s 2-1 Hawks victory.

Crawford, as usual, downplayed his role in the win, deferring credit to the defenders who blocked shots (Duncan Keith had three of the team’s dozen) and to Patrick Kane for delivering the game-tying goal. But Crawford is the biggest reason the Hawks’ record season-opening point streak reached 22.

“He was unbelievable,” Kane said.

“Unreal,” Marian Hossa said.

“Spectacular,” Joel Quenneville said.

Among Crawford’s victims on Sunday were Daniel Cleary (on a one-timer in the slot), Johan Franzen (on the doorstep after some pretty passing), Drew Miller (on a two-on-one), Pavel Datsyuk (from the right circle), Henrik Zetterberg (from point-blank range) and Franzen again (in overtime).

The save on Datsyuk saw Crawford somehow leap to his left from a crouching position and snare the puck out of mid-air with his glove hand.

“He made three or four highlight-reel saves; he was unbelievable,” Hossa said.

Without Crawford, Kane’s goal with 2:02 left might have simply cut Detroit’s lead to 3-1 or 4-1, rather than tie it up.

“He had several big saves, particularly right after they scored to go up one [early in the third],” Quenneville said. “He was outstanding.”

Crawford — as he did after missing four games with a different “upper-body” injury last month, declined to go into specifics about what ailed him on Thursday, simply saying, “I’m not even thinking about it.” But the focus and sharpness that’s been there all season clearly was back. He’s now 10-0-3 with a 1.41 goals-against average (best in the league) and a .945 save percentage (second-best).

“I’m just watching the puck all game, I don’t know how to explain it,” he said. “I’ve just been able to bear down and really focus, especially on the little things on the side of the net, just making sure not to give up those bad goals that change momentum. I’ve been feeling pretty good so far.”



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