Strong effort from Crawford in return to goal

DETROIT -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made his third save of Sunday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings with seconds remaining in the first period, and was doing his best to keep his mind from wandering off.

As the Blackhawks skaters worked in front of him to create a lot of possession time in the first period, Crawford remained largely untested early in his first start since an upper-body injury forced him out of Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Blues. Crawford got his chance to shine in the second part of the game on Sunday, and he did just that in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 shootout win that extended their NHL record points steak to start a season to 22 games.

Detroit’s Tomas Tatar scored 2:43 into the third period after Joakim Andersson made a centering pass from behind Chicago’s net. The Red Wings found a bit of life with the goal, and the 28-year-old Crawford answered by leaving his net on occasion to stop several very strong scoring chances.

“Our goaltending has been outstanding, and tonight again,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Corey was spectacular with some key saves, particularly right after they scored. It looked like they had some open sides. His quickness, and he seemed big in the net as well. A big part of the win today was the goalie.”

Crawford made 32 saves and improved to 10-0-3 on the season.

Crawford missed four games in February with an upper-body injury unrelated to Thursday’s incident. He was cleared to play Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets but Ray Emery got the start.

Asked if he felt any lingering effects from his latest injury, Crawford answered, “I’m not even thinking about it.”

Patrick Kane scored the tying goal for Chicago with 2:02 left in the third period, and the two teams then played a scoreless overtime.

There didn’t look to be any weakness in Crawford’s game when he kept the Red Wings off the scoreboard in the shootout by stopping Henrik Zetterberg and the always creative Pavel Datsyuk and Damien Brunner.

The Blackhawks have the NHL’s best goals-against average at 1.80 goals per game, and with Crawford back at full strength and Emery, who is 9-0-0 this season, in the back pocket, it’s going to take a spectacular effort to light the lamp enough to down Chicago in 60 minutes.