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Crawford, Blackhawks blank Preds

Feb 25, 2011 - 8:22 AM
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Corey Crawford stopped all 31 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season, as the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the Nashville Predators, 3-0, at Bridgestone Arena.

Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville returned to the bench after he had missed the last four games because of a bout with gastrointestinal bleeding caused by an ulcer.

"Crawford was great, but I thought the whole [defensive] core played well," said Quenneville. "I thought that was the big thing tonight, how solid we were defensively."

Tomas Kopecky and Marian Hossa scored for the Blackhawks, who have won three straight and four of their last five games overall. Patrick Sharp added an empty-net goal inside the final minute of regulation.

Pekka Rinne allowed two goals on 24 shots for Nashville, which has dropped three straight, including back-to-back shutouts, and will visit Dallas on Saturday afternoon.

"Every time we've had a downturn this year it's been because we haven't been able to finish," said Predators head coach Barry Trotz.

The teams are now tied for second place in the Central Division with 70 points.

The Blackhawks opened the scoring with 2:48 remaining in the first period. During a delayed penalty, the visitors held control of the puck long enough for Crawford to reach the bench in favor of an extra attacker.

Skating 6-on-5, Chicago set up in its offensive zone and Sharp held the puck atop the left circle. He then sent a pass across the slot for Kopecky, who skated in from the bench when Crawford went off. From the right side near the inner portion of the circle, Kopecky beat Rinne with a wrist shot.

Hossa's unassisted goal -- his 14th marker of 2010-11 -- gave Chicago a two- goal edge 2:35 into the final stanza. He intercepted a pass, skated the length of the ice on a clear breakaway and lit the lamp with a wrister from in close.

The Predators registered 12 shots on goal throughout the final stanza but could not solve Crawford. With just under six minutes remaining, the hosts had what they thought was a goal waived off.

David Legwand attempted a stuffer at the left post and made contact with Crawford, who fell down on the play. Moments later, Colin Wilson shot the disc into the back of the net and the light went on, but referee Chris Rooney immediately signified that Crawford was interfered with, wiping out the goal.

Game Notes

It was Crawford's fourth career shutout...Kopecky's goal was his career-high 11th of the season...The teams split the season series, 3-3...Both teams had only one unsuccessful power-play chance that lasted 20 seconds...Chicago will host Phoenix on Sunday and finish the month at Minnesota on Monday.