The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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Illinois

May 19, 2014

Blackhawks open with 3-1 win

CHICAGO — Corey Crawford is playing so well right now that nothing seems to bother him. When the Chicago Blackhawks had a goal waved off in the second period Sunday, Crawford picked up the slack for his disappointed teammates.

Crawford made 25 saves, Jonathan Toews had a big goal in the third period and the Blackhawks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 in Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference final.

“Confidence has always been there,” Crawford said. “Really, the first thing is being prepared, having that preparation to try and have my game at the highest level it can be each time I get out there.”

He is on quite a roll right now, allowing only one goal in each of the past three games. The 29-year-old Crawford leads the NHL with a 1.90 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage in the playoffs.

“He does a good job of never getting too high or too low because tomorrow’s another day,” teammate Brandon Saad said. “He did a great job tonight.”

Saad had a goal and an assist for defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago, which remained perfect in seven home playoff games this year. Duncan Keith had a tiebreaking score in the third period.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night.

Playing just two days after a Game 7 victory over Anaheim, the Kings got a second-period score from Tyler Toffoli and outshot the Blackhawks 26-20 in the opener of a rematch from last year’s Western Conference final. But Crawford made a couple of solid stops in another terrific performance.

“I think we can do a better job of getting in front of the net and make it harder on their goalie because we had some pretty good shots, but nobody was hanging around, so he was able to see everything,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said.

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