Hockey / Sports

L.A. police confirm battery report filed in Crawford water bottle allegation

CHICAGO -- Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is under investigation for allegedly spraying a Kings fan with a water bottle in the final minutes of the 5-2 loss Monday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

An Los Angeles Police Department spokesman confirmed to the Tribune that a battery report was filed, and an investigation has been ongoing.

Clark Wong, a 27-year-old fan, claims Crawford sprayed him from the bench after being pulled for an extra attacker, causing an irritation to his eyes.

The story was first reported by TMZ.com

When the Tribune contacted Wong Wednesday, he declined to comment, saying he has received death threats and directing all questions to his lawyer.

Crawford was not available for comment after the Hawks morning skate Wednesday. Coach Joel Quenneville said he only learned of the incident shortly before meeting the media.

"I'm not worried about it right now," Quenneville said. "I'm worried about the game, as Corey will."

TMZ.com also reported Wong later was ejected from the game for taunting players.

"It's a pretty low priority," LAPD Commander Andy Smith said of the investigation.

Line shuffle: Brandon Saad described the combination of a second-line comprised of him, Andrew Shaw and Patrick Kane as "a big threat."

Quenneville had Kane on the first line with Jonathan Toews in Game 4's loss but an elimination game called for more tinkering.

"He put us together for a reason," Saad said before facing the Kings in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals on Wednesday, "to bring that energy along with some skill."

In the Hawks' three-goal first period Wednesday night, Saad had the third score while Kane notched three assists and Shaw two.

Quenneville also swapped defensive pairings, splitting up the top unit of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. He paired Keith with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Seabrook with Nick Leddy.

Traffic jam: Crawford entered Game 5 having allowed 13 goals in the previous three games. But his defensemen shouldered much of the blame for allowing the Kings to park in front of the net and block Crawford's vision.

The job isn't as easy as it once was, the Hawks said.

"It's tough nowadays because you can't really handle the guys like it was a couple of years ago," Hjalmarsson said. "You get an interference penalty right away if you try to get too aggressive."

As a result, he said, he must focus more on being in the shooting lanes.

"If they get the shots through, you have to focus on getting their sticks so they don't tip the shots," he said. "You have to try to clear the rebounds."

Taking out the trash: Consider Hjalmarsson no longer annoyed.

He shed the neck guard in Game 4 that he had been wearing since taking a puck to the throat in the series against the Wild. He was without it in Game 5 as well.

"It was really annoying to be playing with that," he said. "It's great to finally throw it in the garbage."

(c)2014 Chicago Tribune

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