Corey Crawford dominates as Blackhawks blank Flyers

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Heading into Wednesday’s game, Corey Crawford‘s hot start to 2017-18 might have been slipping under the radar.

The Philadelphia Flyers are probably painfully aware now, if they weren’t already. Crawford was dazzling on Wednesday, stopping all 35 shots on goal as the Chicago Blackhawks won 3-0.

Again, this wasn’t Crawford’s first strong performance of the season. It was, however, his first shutout of this campaign. He came into the night with an already-stellar .935 save percentage, quietly cleaning up messes and maybe even obscuring at least a portion of Chicago’s rather worrisome issues on defense.

With a .918 career save percentage, Crawford probably already ranks as underrated, but he’s been so strong during the past few seasons that he deserves to get more “elite” mentions that he receives. Wednesday serves as a big, flashing arrow to that point.

The Blackhawks improve to 6-5-2 on the season, and there were some positives, including Jonathan Toews breaking a short slump with a breakaway goal against Brian Elliott:

Still, there were plenty of opportunities for the Flyers, even beyond that high shot count. Eddie Olczyk noted at least seven odd-man rushes during the contest, and there were some dangerous opportunities for the likes of surging Flyers scorer Sean Couturier.

Either way, the Blackhawks will take it. After a 4-1-1 start, Chicago was reeling, having gone 1-4-1 before tonight’s win. They face a challenging weekend back-to-back and then take on the Flyers in Philly in eight days.

The Flyers have to be at least a little frustrated, as they’re slipping a bit in their own right. This defeat leaves them 1-3-1 in their last five games. They merely tied Chicago with 35 shots on goal apiece, so they probably want to do a little work in their own end, too.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.