NEWARK, N.J. (MCT) — As a youngster growing up in Montreal, the Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford looked up to Martin Brodeur,
Tuesday night, Crawford stared the future Hall-of Famer in the eyes as they engaged in a goaltending battle that featured highlight-reel saves at both ends of the ice. When the dust settled, Brodeur had come out on top as the 39-year-old led the Devils to a 2-1 victory over the Hawks in a shootout at Prudential Center.
“He’s pretty good,” Crawford said with a smile after facing Brodeur, who used to be idolized on posters hanging in Crawford’s bedroom. “Some of the saves he made I don’t think I would even think about. It was pretty cool to play against him but it would have been nicer to beat him.”
The Hawks and Crawford weren’t able to overcome the veteran’s shootout acrobatics as Travis Zajac scored the winner.
After a slow start, the Hawks hit Brodeur with a flurry of shots — finishing with 38 — but couldn’t come away with two points as they dropped their second game in a row.
But despite the absences of captain Jonathan Toews with a concussion and defenseman Duncan Keith serving the second of a five-game suspension, the Hawks salvaged a critical point in the Western Conference postseason race when Brent Seabrook beat a screened Brodeur midway through the third period. That helped move the Hawks to within three points of the fifth-place Predators and also extended their lead over the seventh-place Stars to six.
“Even though we had more shots than they did, I don’t think we created the quality chances we would like,” said Hawks winger Marian Hossa, who had the game on his stick in the shootout but couldn’t get the puck past a sprawling Brodeur. “They play well defensively. We are happy with one point but we felt like, especially the first period, it wasn’t good enough.”
As terrific as Brodeur was, Crawford was just as brilliant. The 27-year-old allowed Petr Sykora’s power-play goal late in the first period but held off the Devils the rest of the way in regulation.
The continuing decline of their power play again plagued the Hawks. After misfiring on four opportunities against the Devils — including a 1-minute, 8-second span in the second period when they had a five-on-three advantage — the Hawks haven’t generated a shot on goal their last eight tries.
“Our power play at least has to (gain) momentum if you don’t score,” Hossa said. “Five-on-three we couldn’t settle the puck down. We couldn’t get a shot and that’s unacceptable.”
Coach Joel Quenneville, who said Brodeur “had a remarkable game,” was pleased the Hawks came away with one point.
“You’re looking in the rearview mirror (because) the priority is making the playoffs first,” Quenneville said. “We want to keep trying to move ahead but there is a lot of traffic back there so we’ll take the point and keep pushing.”