Despite OT loss, Crawford 'felt pretty good'

NEW YORK -- Corey Crawford was brilliant in his return Thursday night -- and the Chicago Blackhawks would not have earned a point without him.

Crawford, starting his first game since Dec. 8 after missing nearly a month due to a lower-body injury, made 31 saves, but the Blackhawks lost the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime at Nassau Coliseum.

“I felt pretty good,” Crawford said. “The energy was definitely there, and I was seeing the puck pretty well. I think there was maybe some rebounds that I gave up that usually I take care of, but I felt pretty good out there.”

Crawford (17-6-4) elevated his game in the third period, using his left pad to stone John Tavares early in the final frame and then making a highway robbery-type save on Kyle Okposo late in regulation.

“He played huge,” Jonathan Toews said of Crawford. “Especially late, but really throughout the game. We gave up way too many high-quality chances where he had to make some sprawling saves to keep the puck out.”

Okposo would get his revenge 58 seconds into the extra period, however. Tavares' initial shot was blocked by Duncan Keith, but the puck bounced right onto the tape of Okposo, who ripped a blast past Crawford for the game winner.

“Tavares came down the wing and tried to get a shot on net,” Crawford said. “Our D-man [Keith] was able to get a block on that one and it was a fortunate bounce for them. It bounced to Okposo, right on his stick. It was great play by our D-man. It was just an unfortunate bounce.”

The Blackhawks (28-7-8) dug themselves into an 0-2 hole, but rallied back behind goals from Brent Seabrook and Ben Smith.

In the end, though, they made two many mistakes in their end zone. And despite hitting a post and a crossbar, they were fortunate to come away with a point.

“I thought we worked, but we didn’t work smart,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “The positive of the game was Corey’s play. He got us a point and made some real key stops late in the game. He saved us.”