This exit --- sealed with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 --- is hardly that. Despite the fact the ‘Hawks were forced to cede some of their best players -- including Andrew Ladd, Dustin Byfuglien and Antti Niemi -- due to salary cap restrictions and pushed an untested goalie into the fray, Chicago still fell to within a goal of advancing anyway.
Not bad for a Chicago team who entered as the No. 8 seed that faced a Vancouver squad fresh off its first Presidents’ Trophy.
The Blackhawks weren't hanging their heads, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reports:
Tired and saddened, Toews was asked to sum up the incredible 13 days. He paused.
“We’ve had some good series in the past, but I have to say that’s been the best one,” he said. “We never gave up. You have to feel like it’s meant to be when you get to that point. You have to think it’s going to go your way and when it doesn’t … I can’t believe what just happened. There was no doubt in my mind we were going to win this game coming into it.”
The Hawks’ bid to become the fourth team to advance in a best-of-7 series despite losing the first three games ended when Alex Burrows scored in OT. The goal came less than five minutes after Canucks goalie Roberto Lungo robbed Chicago’s Patrick Sharp on a power-play attempt.
While Luongo exorcised some demons against a team he lost seven of the previous 18 playoff contests against, the Blackhawks weren’t lacking in net --- especially as the series progressed. Rookie Corey Crawford had 36 saves in Game 7, six more than Luongo. Crawford even stopped a Burrow’s penalty shot 21 seconds into the third period, a stop that allowed Jonathan Toews to force OT with a goal later in the period.
The Chicaog Tribune's Brian Hamilton reports that Crawford sounded like anything but a novice after the game:
"It's tough to lose in overtime," Crawford said. "I felt we could have won it in overtime. When you're a goalie, and when you give up a goal in overtime like that, it's hard to take. I wasn't really thinking about the saves or anything like that right after they scored."
Crawford had his moments all throughout the game but spiked the angst in western Canada in the third period specifically. First, with the Canucks holding a tenuous 1-0 lead, he denied Burrows on a penalty shot wrister just 21 seconds into the final period to revitalize his club.
"Same thing I always do, just get out there and close the gap on him and read and react," Crawford said. "He's a shooter, so I was ready for a quick shot like that."
-- A.J. Perez