Three Stars: Corey Crawford saves Chicago's season
Saturday was another day packed with NHL playoff action. The Rangers were eliminated after falling to the Penguins in Pittsburgh, 6–3. Anaheim took a lead in its series with Nashville, beating the Predators 5–2 at home. The Chicago Blackhawks will live to fight another day, as they forced a Game 7 with the St. Louis Blues.
Here is who stood out the most on Saturday:
1. Corey Crawford, Blackhawks
That’s what you call a Grant Fuhr special. Crawford stumbled early, allowing the Blues to take a 3–1 lead into the first intermission, but with the Blackhawks’ season on the line he turned into a brick wall, stopping 15 shots over the final two periods to guide Chicago to a 6–3 win.
Crawford fought off an apparent upper body injury after being drilled in the midsection by a Colton Parayko shot with 8.3 seconds remaining in the middle frame and returned to hold down the fort as the Blues pressed for the equalizer. His stop on Jori Lehtera in the dying minutes with the Hawks holding a 4–3 lead was as clutch as any you’ll see.
2. Bryan Rust, Penguins
For a guy whose status was uncertain heading into Game 5 (undisclosed injury), Rust looked pretty good in Pittsburgh’s series-clinching 6–3 win over the Rangers. The 23-year-old scored two goals and added an assist, becoming the first rookie in franchise history to record three points in a playoff game.
Rust staked the Pens to a 3–2 lead at 5:21 of the second period with his first career playoff goal, deflecting a slick slap pass off the stick of Trevor Daley behind Henrik Lundqvist. Later in the period, he stripped the puck from Rangers forward Derick Brassard and set up Matt Cullen for the eventual game-winner. He then finished the scoring for Pittsburgh, beating Lundqvist high glove from the right circle with 58.7 seconds remaining in the second.
3. Frederik Andersen, Ducks
With three consecutive wins, the Ducks have taken control of their first-round series with the Predators. Andersen is the biggest reason for that success. On Saturday, he stopped 27 of 29 to lead Anaheim to a thrilling 5–2 win. He was the difference early, robbing Roman Josi on a two-on-one chance that set the table for the Ducks win. Through three games now, the Great Dane has allowed just three goals on 89 shots for a .966 save percentage.