Blackhawks blank Flyers, halt three-game slid
CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford knew he had to act fast.
Philadelphia Flyers center Valtteri Filppula darted behind Chicago’s net to attempt a wraparound goal. Crawford anticipated the move and stretched his left leg as far as he could along the goal line for the save.
“I kind of lost it for a second there,” Crawford said. “I was just trying to recover as quick as possible.”
The dazzling stop was one of several made by Crawford, who made 35 saves to earn his first shutout of the season and the 22nd shutout of his career. Chicago pulled away for a 3-0 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night at the United Center.
Artem Anisimov, Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat each scored for the Blackhawks. Chicago (6-5-2) snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 4-2-1 on home ice.
“We needed a big effort,” Crawford said. “We’ve been playing pretty good hockey, just haven’t gotten some wins. That was a good one to get a big win at home and get back on track.”
Philadelphia (6-6-1) was blanked for the third time this season. The Flyers are 1-3-1 since Oct. 24.
The Flyers peppered Crawford with eight shots in the first period, 12 in the second and 15 in the third. They lamented a slew of missed opportunities on quality scoring chances.
“We just couldn’t buy one, and Crawford made a few big stops,” Flyers right winger Jakub Voracek said. “It wasn’t only the wraparound. It was a couple huge stops on me. I had a breakaway, (Claude Giroux) had a breakaway. We had a lot of shots on the power play. He was really solid today.”
Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott turned aside 32 shots to keep his team within striking distance. But he allowed Chicago to break a scoreless tie midway through the second period with two goals in 20 seconds.
Anisimov started the scoring binge with a power-play goal. He won a faceoff in the offensive zone and skated toward the front of the crease, where he punched in a rebound for his fourth goal.
“(I wanted to) go there and take away the goalie’s eyes, and something’s going to happen,” Anisimov said.
Toews quickly increased Chicago’s lead to 2-0 when he scored on a breakaway with 10:42 to go in the second period. Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg whiffed on a shot attempt from near the blue line, and Toews seized the puck and sprinted down the ice before beating Elliott with a backhand shot.
As he sized up the goaltender, Toews remembered a failed breakaway attempt from earlier in the season.
“I had one a few games ago, and I just played it safe,” said Toews, who has four goals this season. “This time, I just figured try to come in with speed and make a move and try to get him to bite.
“I think our line with (Richard Panik and DeBrincat) tonight generated quite a bit. A couple pucks didn’t go for us, but as a line, I don’t think it matters who scores. I think we all get some confidence when we see one go in like that.”
Hagg was asked whether the condition of the ice surface led to his turnover.
“I don’t know,” Hagg said. “Maybe a little bit, but I think it’s no different than any other game we’ve played so far. The ice is kind of (bad) everywhere we play, so it is what it is. You have to just battle through it.”
DeBrincat added an empty-net goal with 1:49 remaining in the third period.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol focused on the positives despite the shutout loss.
“I thought we had a really good effort from everybody in the lineup,” Hakstol said. “I really can’t find one guy that was below the bar in terms of effort tonight.”
NOTES: Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere missed his second straight game because of an upper-body injury. ... Blackhawks D Gustav Forsling missed a game for the first time this season because of an upper-body injury. Fellow D Cody Franson played alongside D Duncan Keith in Forsling’s absence. ... Flyers C Nolan Patrick (upper body) and D Andrew MacDonald (lower body) did not travel with the team to Chicago. ... Blackhawks D Connor Murphy played in front of his father, longtime blue-liner Gord Murphy, who is an assistant coach with the Flyers. ... Flyers RW Wayne Simmonds played his 700th game. ... Before the game, fans observed a moment of silence for the victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attack in New York. ... Flyers D Radko Gudas sustained an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return.