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Joel Quenneville is 'hopeful' Corey Crawford will play before playoffs begin

The Vezina Trophy candidate is back on the ice.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after Saturday's practice that he is "hopeful" starting goaltender Corey Crawford will play before the end of the regular season.

Crawford returned to the ice Saturday for the first time since March 14 when the Hawks played the Los Angeles Kings. He has been out with an apparent head injury, though it is not known if the injury occurred during that game.

Crawford, 31, has posted a career-best 35-18-4 record with a 2.32 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 57 games this season. His seven shutouts lead the league, while he is tied for third in wins and third in save percentage. Prior to the injury, the 31-year-old goaltender allowed 11 goals in his last three starts.

With Crawford out, backup Scott Darling has gone 4-3 in eight starts, including victories on a back-to-back during the Hawks' four-game road trip. The Hawks also recalled Michael Leighton when Crawford went down with his injury, but the all-time AHL shutout leader has yet to make a start. Leighton stopped 16 shots in a relief appearance March 22 against Dallas.