TAMPA – Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s review of Corey Crawford’s performance in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final:
Ouch. At a playoff stage where coaches and teammates rarely offer anything but support – Patrick Sharp said of Crawford, “Corey played great, [made] a number of big saves, kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win” – this hung in the air like a harsh critique from Quenneville.
But no matter what his coach’s assessment was, Corey Crawford is ultimately going to be his harshest critic.
“I can’t let that happen again,” he said, after the Lightning rallied and then won Game 2, 4-3, on Saturday night. “It’s frustrating. I felt good but it’s not good enough. Especially when we get momentum, we score a big goal on the power play and they come back with those two.”
Teuvo Teravainen scored at 5:20 of the second period to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead. But that was erased when Nikita Kucherov scored on a sneaky redirection at 6:52 – Crawford didn’t move until the puck was behind him.
Then came a horrible goal for the Blackhawks: Tyler Johnson, sliding a puck off the shaft of Crawford’s stick, then off his back, then into the net at 13:58 to give the Lightning a 3-2 lead.
“I don’t want to give that up. I don’t think he was trying to do that. He kind of fanned on his backhand, hit the side of the net, I don’t know if it bounced up, I kind of lost it from there, but I felt something on my back. You can’t give those up in these games. That’s two goals I pretty much just gave them and gave them momentum back,” said Crawford, who made 20 saves on 24 shots.
Brent Seabrook appeared to bail Crawford out with a third-period goal at 3:38 to tie it. But Jason Garrison’s shot deflected off of Andrew Desjardins and past Crawford at 8:49 on the power play, giving the Lightning the eventual game-winner.
“It was a good hockey game. It was back and forth and both teams were battling. The margin wasn’t much there. It was a pretty close game,” said Crawford.
As the Lightning tie the series at 1-1, their goaltending situation is in flux. Ben Bishop left Game 2 for undisclosed reasons, with backup Andrei Vasilevskiy getting the win in relief. “We heard the PA announcer going back and forth with announcing who was in net. We don't know what's up,” said Steven Stamkos.
The last thing Crawford wants to do is cloud the confidence the Blackhawks have in their netminder. This was the third time in six starts that Crawford's given up four or more goals; in those games, he gave up at least three at even strength.
“I’m competitive. I want to stop everything. It’s pretty frustrating, especially a couple I think I could have had. It’s frustrating but you keep going. You can’t hang your head right now,” he said.
“When you give up two goals that maybe shouldn’t go in at this point of the season it’s pretty frustrating. I felt good. I was seeing the puck well. Some funky plays that went in. I’ve just got to be better.”