Quenneville praises Crawford’s maturity as Blackhawks look to rebound in Game 3


Corey Crawford’s game and whether he can bounce back from a tough loss is up for discussion – again.

Crawford allowed five of six goals in a Game 2 loss to the L.A. Kings, and the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves tied in this best-of-seven Western Conference Final at one-game apiece. It was a disastrous end to that game for Chicago, which had built up a two-goal lead on the score board and could’ve done so in the series.

To their credit, the Kings got a fortunate break on their first goal, then went on to put another four past Crawford, before an empty-net goal secured the win, sending this series back to L.A. all even.

The two teams meet again on Saturday in Game 3. Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville praised his netminder’s maturity and ability to bounce back after tough outings.

“Yeah, he’s moved forward off all his games, ordinary games as well. I thought he was fine last game. I thought he had a great practice out here today,” Quenneville told reporters.

“Just the way he moves, the way he handles the next situation is something that shows he’s really developed I guess his efficiency of being the kind of goaltender that you look for as being your key guy.

“I think every year he’s matured in different ways. I just think he’s gotten better and better in how to approach, whether it’s a goal that he feels he could have had, a tough loss. But I think he’s handled all situations, whether it’s a big win or coming off the last game. But he moves forward in the proper fashion. Today was a good example of that.”

As is the situation with every goalie in the playoffs, their play and performance is always subject to criticism when things aren’t going well and lauded when things go well. Crawford is no exception.

In the first round, he was critical of his own play after the first two games against St. Louis. Consider that now, in the third round, his name has been mentioned in the Conn Smythe discussion.

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

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Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.


Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.