But when the puck was on the other side of the rink and his teammates appeared to be close to scoring on the Anaheim Ducks, that’s when he began to get excited. He was sure that the game -- which would become the longest contest in Blackhawks franchise history -- would be over with long before it actually ended.
“It was more on the other side where we cut into the middle and we just missed the net,” Crawford said. “I think it was [Patrick Sharp who] threw one in from the boards and it hit [Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen] right in the mask or the shoulder right before we score. There were a few I thought might trickle in.”
Crawford was at a loss for words at times as he tried to wrap his head around his career-high 60 saves and the Blackhawks’ 3-2, triple-overtime win over the Ducks in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
Crawford was certain he was exhausted, and he was happy the Blackhawks were the ones to come out on top.
“It was tiring, obviously,” Crawford said. “Just relief right now. Glad it’s done and it’s on our side, we won that one.”
The Ducks had their share of opportunities to be on that side. And as the game got deeper and deeper, the Ducks’ chances seemed to be greater.
Crawford’s 52nd save came by stopping Patrick Maroon right in front of the net. His 55th save was by covering the post and blocking a Corey Perry shot. His 56th and 57th saves came in the opening minute of the third overtime. His 60th and final save came when he used his chest to deny the Ducks’ Kyle Palmieri in the slot.
Was this Crawford's best game?
“Hands down,” Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell said. “Sixty-two shots, something like that, that’s unbelievable. Six periods to keep us in the game, X amount of times when they had [Corey] Perry coming down the slot and certain chances like that, making big saves like he did. That’s what we expect out of him. We’re happy to see it.”
Mentally, Crawford said he didn’t have a problem staying in the game. Physically, though, it took a toll. He could feel the minutes adding up.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed with the way Crawford persevered and stopped the last 38 shots he faced over the final 79:42 of the game.
“I thought he battled,” Quenneville said. “I thought he was outstanding, quick, alert, handled the puck, rebound control, challenged. Made a couple gigantic saves.”
After the game in the Blackhawks’ dressing room, Crawford was handed the team’s MVP belt. Crawford thought Marcus Kruger, who scored the game-winning goal, was more deserving. Kruger wasn’t so sure.
“He could have kept it,” Kruger said. “Maybe he isn't that kind of guy that would keep a thing like that. I mean, he deserves it. He was great tonight. He gave us a chance. Yeah, we're happy to have him.”