1. Corey Crawford was exceptional.
When archnemesis Anton Khudobin was slated to start a second straight game against the Blackhawks, I was worried it was going to be another 35-plus shot effort where Khudobin stands on his head. However, Crawford had no interest in giving the Stars a sniff of a franchise-record eighth straight victory and won the goalie duel with a 32 save shutout. It was Crawford’s first shutout of the season and No. 26 of his career.
From the drop of the puck to the final horn, Crawford directed most of his rebounds away from the slot and competitively pushed out to the top of the crease to take away opponents’ shooting angles. He had an expected goals against of 3.15 in all situations, per Natural Stat Trick, and collected ten high danger saves:
Here are a few of the most memorable saves from the shutout:
Denis Gurianov’s breakaway:
Tyler Seguin’s power play chance:
Right pad save on Joe Pavelski’s one-timer from the high slot:
2. Chicago won the special teams battle.
Not often will you see a perfect special teams performance where both the penalty kill and power play are 100-percent successful. On Tuesday, the Blackhawks went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and 1-for-1 on the man advantage.
Calvin de Haan, David Kampf, Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews shouldered the load by playing 1:50-minutes or more shorthanded and Chicago has now killed off 13 of their last 14 penalties.
On the power play, Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 13 games with a superb illustration of what it means to be patient with the puck:
The power play conversion all started with an efficient zone entry and a high slot puck retrieval by Toews that created a chain of six passes before ending up on Kane’s stick. It was the Blackhawk’s first power play goal since the 4-1 victory over Buffalo on Nov. 17.
Keeping this momentum rolling on special teams will be one of the key ingredients to capturing points on the challenging five game stretch against Colorado, Boston and St. Louis after Thanksgiving.
3. 4th line dominance.
The Matthew Highmore - Ryan Carpenter - Zack Smith line was notably solid on Tuesday, especially Carpenter and Smith. In 7:10 minutes of ice time at 5-on-5, the line generated a 77.8-percent Corsi-For with a 6-to-0 shot advantage and zero high-danger chances against, while having three defensive zone starts. Carpenter had two shots, three hits, two takeaways in 14:10 minutes and Smith had three shots, a hit and a block in 12:46 minutes.
One of the more notables plays by the line was Carpenter’s steal on a Dallas breakout attempt that led to Smith’s breakaway chance early in the first period:
With Dylan Strome in concussion protocol, Carpenter and Smith will likely see a bump in their ice time. Tuesday’s performance was a recipe for success that the duo will need to repeat in coming games.