Hawks Clinch Central and Sweep Red Wings

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

With eight games remaining in the regular season, the Blackhawks have clinched the Central Division crown with a 3-2 shootout victory over Detroit.

Friday’s game was unusual for the Hawks as they played like a team that didn’t care enough about winning over the opening 40 minutes of play. Fortunately for the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford returned to action from a three game hiatus and looked sharp. He was able to keep the game close until his teammates got determined.

On a night when Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard was good but also lucky, it looked like the Hawks were going to fall short. Whether it was a combination of a lack of focus, poor officiating or bad United Center ice, the Hawks looked sloppy. In the NHL a poor job from the men in stripes is almost as constant as death and taxes, but the better teams find a way to survive. The UC ice is another factor, but that can’t be used as a reason to lose.

It isn’t easy to defeat an opponent in four consecutive games, and similar can be said for a goal tender to do same. This year is different for the Blackhawks as they swept the four game season series from Detroit, and Crawford has played in each victory.

Trailing 2-1 going into the third period the Hawks found their groove. Possibly the Wings playing on Thursday night may have helped the Chicago cause.

The Hawks team defense was good for the most part, and there were some fine contributions from Viktor Stalberg and Michael Frolik. Rookie Brandon Saad capped the night off by scoring the final shootout goal as the Hawks captured their 31st win of the campaign.

Crawford had a fine outing and played really well in the shootout. Those hoping for a goalie controversy will have to wait.

Read more: http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/21969195/blackhawks-clinch-central-division-after-3-2-shootout-win-over-detroit#ixzz2QMvFio7W

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