In a prime time matchup of Original Six foes, the Blackhawks and Canadiens featured a couple of the game’s elite netminders. Both were tested, but one stood taller.
The first period saw Montreal out-shoot Chicago 11-4 – and the Blackhawks had the only power play of the period with Andrew Shaw in the box.
Only one goal was scored in the opening 20 minutes, and it came from red-hot Patrick Kane.
Artem Anisimov picked up the primary assist on Kane’s 31st of the season, setting a new career-high with 45 points. Unfortunately, his night ended later in the first period when Alex Radulov collapsed into his lower left leg. Anisimov stayed down and was helped from the ice without putting weight on his left leg.
Anisimov did not return.
The Hawks came out with obviously needed line adjustments to start the second period. Nick Schmaltz moved to between Kane and Artemi Panarin and Ryan Hartman moved up to skating with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik. Dennis Rasmussen, back in the lineup, moved into Hartman’s slot on the third line.
Chicago got out-shot again in the second, this time 14-11. The Hawks were short-handed twice in the second, but Corey Crawford was on point. Crawford took a Shea Weber shot clean to the face at one point and was understandably knocked on his ass, but recovered to keep the Habs off the board.
Corey Crawford faces the ultimate nightmare and lives to tell the tale. This Weber shot is the hardest I've seen hit a mask from that range. pic.twitter.com/Jt9zuR4UB5
— InGoal Magazine (@InGoalMedia) March 15, 2017
Meanwhile, the Hawks made their shots count again. Johnny Oduya unloaded a missile to extend the lead to 2-0.
Moments after the Oduya goal, Panik charged the net and had a great chance. He got Carey Price down but couldn’t elevate the puck. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville used his challenge on the play as the puck was trapped under Price’s leg and the net was knocked loose, but there wasn’t clear evidence that the puck crossed the line.
Montreal held a 25-15 shot advantage after 40 minutes, but trailed by two.
Only 47 seconds into the third, Schmaltz set up Panarin for a beauty.
The three-goal lead held up until Paul Byron ended Crawford’s shutout bid almost 12 minutes later.
Almost four minutes later, Weber cut the lead to 3-2 with 3:28 left in regulation.
Montreal pulled Price with 98 seconds left and the Hawks took advantage. Kane found Toews who flipped a backhand shot into the empty net to make the score 4-2.
And that’s where the score would end. Crawford made a couple more fantastic saves in the final seconds to hang on to the lead, and Chicago moved into first place in the division.
Chicago has won nine of their last ten road games and came out of Montreal with an impressive win against a top Eastern Conference opponent.
Crawford stayed undefeated against his home town team and was spectacular. He made 40 saves against 42 tough shots.
Kane led the offense with three points (one goal, two assists) while Toews won 13 of 23 faceoffs with two hits and his 18th goal of the season. Kane also had three hits.
Schmaltz struggled at the dot after replacing Anisimov, winning only two of 14. But he added an assist and blocked shot.
Brent Seabrook blocked seven shots to lead a strong defensive effort in front of Crawford. Chicago blocked 31 shots, including four each from Hartman and Hossa. Tanner Kero and Jordin Tootoo led Chicago with four hits. Kero was also credited with three blocked shots in 14:50.