Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks makes a glove save against the Florida Panthers at the United Center on March 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Sharp-less Blackhawks Look Sharp In Victory Over Panthers

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Corey Crawford's 23 Saves Leads Blackhawks To 4-0 Shutout Of Panthers

Just when the Blackhawks needed goaltender Corey Crawford to put up his best effort the most, he topped himself by posting his fourth shutout of the season. That equals the number that Cristobal Huet had last year in the Hawks’ Stanley Cup winning season. The Blackhawks’ win moved them to 88 points and a three-way tie for fifth place in the NHL’s Western Conference. The Blackhawks won 4-0.

Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook each scored a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks, who are in the thick of the wild Western Conference playoff race with nine games left. In addition, Viktor Stalberg and Tomas Kopecky also scored goals for the Blackhawks, who had 31 shots off Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun.

The win put the Blackhawks one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and into a three-way tie with the Kings and Predators. That sets up a key match at the United Center on Saturday with the Ducks; it’s the only one of those nine remaining games where the Hawks will face a team that’s in the Western playoff scrum. Should be a wild ride to the finish.


Chicago Blackhawks Vs. Florida Panthers: Patrick Sharp Out Two Weeks

The Blackhawks have 10 games remaining in the regular season -- five at home, five on the road. Two of those home games happen this week, starting tonight against the Florida Panthers, who are one of the bottom-feeders in the Eastern Conference, with 68 points placing them 14th.

So you'd think this would be an easy game to pick up for the Hawks, right? You'd be wrong. Nothing's been easy for this team all year. They'll have to win, likely for the rest of the regular season, without Patrick Sharp, whose 34 goals lead the team, and whose 68 points rank 11th in the NHL. All NHL teams have to deal with injuries, but it seems this year's Blackhawks team has had to deal with more injuries to more key players than other squads, or in past years. Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell are also out; the Hawks have brought in Marcus Kruger from Sweden, a 2009 draft pick, to help. He should arrive in time for tonight's game; watch for him wearing uniform No. 16.

Every game takes on heightened importance because the Blackhawks and five other teams are all within three points of each other from fifth through 10th in the Western Conference. The Hawks currently occupy seventh place, alone, but are just one point ahead of the Ducks, Stars and Flames.

Tonight's game begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on CSN Chicago.

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