by Scott King
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford exited during the first period of Sunday’s 7-3 loss against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.
“He’s probably the guy that’s worked the hardest and held us in the most over the season,” Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy said. “So that’s never a good sign.”
Murphy was frustrated on how the injury occurred.
“[Crawford is] such a big part of our team and to lose him, it’s not good,” Murphy said. “You just feel for him because [in] a game like that, we leave our goalies hung out to dry. And for them to take guys crashing on him is not even fair either.”
Crawford made six saves on eight shots before leaving the game after hitting his head on a post following a collision in the net with Chicago (10-19-6) forward Dylan Strome at 18:30 of the first period. San Jose (18-11-5) forward Evander Kane drew a goalie interference penalty on the play.
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton wasn’t sure Kane could have avoided the play.
“Yeah, I don’t see that,” Colliton said. “Honestly, I haven’t looked for that and for me the focus is on the goaltender. He’s hurt, so that’s unfortunate.”
Crawford missed the final 47 games of the 2017-2018 season with a concussion and made his 2018-2019 debut on Oct. 21 (4-1 loss to Arizona Coyotes at United Center).
Cam Ward relieved Crawford and allowed five goals on 35 shots.
“We just didn’t play good defensively,” Blackhawks forward Dylan Strome said. “Lots of errors, we left Cam out to dry, it’s on us. He actually made some big saves for us and then we left him out there.
“When you’re out there it doesn’t have too much of an effect on if the goalie changes or whatever happens, we were just trying to continue to battle and that’s what happens sometimes.”
Crawford was 6-14-2 with a 3.23 goals-against average and .903 save percentage prior to Sunday. His play hasn’t changed much this season, but his numbers have taken a dive with a struggling Blackhawks defense.
He missed the first five games this season with symptoms from a concussion he sustained last season. His last game of 2017-18 was Dec. 23 against the New Jersey Devils.
“I mean you never want to see that, but we have to keep playing,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. “It’s just one of those things that hopefully he’s back. I don’t know what happened, but nothing should change.”
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