Crawford silences Wild in the end

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild’s fans started in on Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford within seconds of the first puck being dropped in Game 6 of their second-round series on Tuesday.

Over and over again, the fans chanted, “Craw-ford, Craw-ford, Craw-ford.” They especially gave it to him after he allowed a second-period goal.

The fans filled the building with sound of Crawford’s name in spurts throughout all of regulation and in overtime on Tuesday. All the while, Crawford was enjoying every moment of it.

“Yeah, I could hear it,” Crawford said with a smile. “It’s fun. It’s a fun part of hockey -- trying to get in my head. I’ve heard it before, probably won’t be the last time either. I enjoyed it. It was fun. That’s part of it, that’s playoff hockey. I’d rather it be like that than dead quiet.”

Crawford’s favorite moment came in the end, though.

After he had made his 34th save on the Wild’s 35th shot and Patrick Kane delivered a goal at the other end to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 overtime win and the series, the Wild’s fans were mum.

“It was pretty exciting tonight, throughout this whole series in this building.” Crawford said. “It was kind of nice to win it in front of them tonight.”

If it hadn’t been for Crawford, the Wild easily would have been celebrating a series-tying win on Tuesday. He emerged when the Blackhawks needed him to just as he has a number of times in the playoffs the past two seasons.

The Wild especially put Crawford to the test in the second period. The Wild dominated possession and placed 14 shots on Crawford in the 20 minutes. They got just one past him.

Crawford’s most notable saves came on point-blank chances by the Wild. Justin Fontaine had a breakaway attempt midway through the period, and Crawford stuffed him on the initial shot and then on the rebound. Late in the period, Crawford denied Fontaine again on two consecutive shots from within a few feet.

Crawford’s teammates couldn’t say enough about him afterward. In the Blackhawks’ four wins in the series, he made 114 saves on 119 shots for a .958 save percentage.

“He was big,” Kane said. “Seems to be a trend in this building, kind of in the second period, that they outplay us. I’m sure he wasn’t happiest with us with how we were playing in front of him. But he did what he does. He’s a great goaltender, and we feel he’s the best in the league for that reason.”

After allowing Erik Haula a breakaway goal at 2:29 of the second period, Crawford stopped the last 24 shots he faced in the game. He made seven saves in the third period and five more in overtime.

“Tonight, give Corey a ton of credit for keeping us in that game,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “That’s going to be a good hockey team over there. Commend them on the way they played tonight. We were fortunate to win.”

Just like the pucks, Crawford fended off praise, too. He wasn’t searching for credit for the win. He was just happy to win.

“I don’t know [how I’d rate my performance],” Crawford said. “I rate it as a win. That’s the only thing that counts. I was pretty excited and relieved when that went in. It was a great series. They played hard and never quit against us. Just felt like they kept coming harder and harder as the series went on. We stuck with it. That overtime, that was some pretty good hockey by us. We pressed pretty hard. Don’t know what else to say. It was pretty awesome to finish it off.”