Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was seranaded by the crowd at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night, hearing “Crawford, Crawford, Crawford” time and again.
But Crawford ended up the star of the game, stopping 34 shots to lead the defending Stanley Cup champions into the Western Conference finals.
“I could hear it,” Crawford said after a 2-1 overtime victory. “It’s the fun part of hockey trying to get in my head. I enjoyed it.”
“He did what he does,’’ said Patrick Kane, who scored the game-winner in overtime.
Crawford kept the Hawks in a game, stopping Justin Fontaine twice on breakaways and stoning Cody McCormick on a nifty wraparound attempt.
“It’s exciting to say you didn’t play your best and still won a series,’’ Kane said. “We still feel like we have another level to get to.’’
Ballard back in lineup
Wild defenseman Keith Ballard has a history of concussions, so he said he would not have played in Tuesday’s game if he had any concussion symptoms.
“I’d been through that before, been down that road a couple times, and the more you kind of learn about these things and the more information that’s coming out, the long-term effects, they’re not worth it to put yourself in that situation,” said Ballard, who said he missed Sunday’s game for precautionary reasons after his head hit the glass when the Blackhawks’ Brandon Bollig hit him from behind last week.
“I feel fine. I felt fine for a couple days. We were trying to be pretty smart about it.”
Ballard said he understands the symptoms of a concussion because he has had them before, including earlier this season when he missed seven games with one.
“You think, ‘Ah, I don’t have a headache, but I don’t feel right. I’m a little bit out of it. I’m more irritable,’ or whatever,” he said. “There’s so many different symptoms, and I’ve had over the years a couple concussions. I’ve become more aware of how I’m feeling and understanding what goes along with it.
“It’s not an injury that you necessarily are in a lot of pain or anything. You get some headaches here and there. They can all vary, too. It’s just more of when you know the long-term effects. I’ve got little kids at home. I don’t want to be putting myself in a position where in 10 years I can’t remember their names and can’t get through a day functioning normally, so that’s the scary part of these things.”
The Wild is the first team in NHL history to have three Finnish centers (Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula) on the same roster, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I didn’t even know [Haula] before the season started,” Koivu said before Game 6. “They’re still young guys, so they’ve got a lot of good years in front of them.”
Haula said Koivu has been a huge help for him.
“I respect him a lot and always want to hear what he has to say,” Haula said. “He has given me a lot of pointers about being a pro and is definitely a guy to look up to.”