Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night:
1. Salvaging a slow start.
The Blackhawks have dominated the first period through three games this season, having outscored their opponents 9-0 in the opening frame entering Tuesday's game. They got off to their worst start of the year in this one though, allowing the Canadiens to strike first just 1:15 into the contest and were outshot 14-2 halfway through the period.
But the Blackhawks salvaged their slow start by scoring two goals in 19 seconds towards the latter stages of the period, and took a lead into the second for the fourth straight game.
2. Alex DeBrincat scores his first of many goals in the NHL.
We teased the possibility of it in our Three Things to Watch, but the Blackhawks' top prospect is officially on the board. The 19-year-old winger snapped a three-game goal drought to open the season by blasting one past arguably the league's best goaltender in Carey Price for his first career tally.
On the play, DeBrincat received a short pass from Patrick Sharp, adjusted his body quickly to get into a shooting position and slapped it home from one of his main sweet spots. He also registered an assist later in the game for his first multi-point effort of his career.
Side note: DeBrincat committed a third-period turnover that led to a breakaway, but his strong backcheck helped disrupt the shot. That's something coaches will certainly appreciate when looking back at the tape.
3. Corey Crawford continues domination against hometown team.
For the second straight game, the Blackhawks perhaps got bailed out by great goaltendering. The Montreal native was outstanding in his hometown return, and he had to be from the very beginning.
The Canadiens peppered the Blackhawks with 14 shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the game, and finished the contest with a season-high 42 of them. Crawford stopped all but one of them in the win, and improved to 8-0-2 with a 1.49 goals against average and .954 save percentage in 10 career games against Montreal.
The most important save of the game came on a shorthanded breakaway in the second period, which happened shortly before the Blackhawks scored on the power play to take a 3-1 lead. The score wouldn't change the rest of the way.
Crawford has now allowed only one goal in each of his first three games, and increased his season save percentage to .971. A darkhorse Vezina Trophy candidate?
4. Penalty kill steps up.
Crawford was the biggest reason the Blackhawks won, but the penalty kill unit is a close second. They were a perfect 5-for-5 in that department against a team still searching for its first power play goal of the season.
Early in the first, the Blackhawks killed off a 5-on-3 penalty that could've changed the complexion of the game but their unit stood tall.
Tanner Kero and Tommy Wingels were very noticeable in their own ends, combining for four blocked shots and breaking up a handful of plays with active sticks. It was an all around great effort.
5. Cody Franson's debut could've been better.
Connor Murphy was a health scratch in only his fourth game with the Blackhawks, but it was likely more about getting another defenseman some reps on the second of a back-to-back rather than his on-ice play. And with the Gustav Forsling-Jan Rutta pairing shining and Franson being a right-handed shot, it makes sense why Murphy was taken out instead of the left-handed shot Michal Kempny.
As far of Franson's debut went, it wasn't bad but it wasn't great. He committed a pair of penalties (tripping and slashing) but it didn't cost his team thanks to the penalty kill coming through in the clutch, as we mentioned above.
Franson finished the game with 16:41 of ice time, recorded an assist on Anisimov's goal, and had four shot attempts (two on goal).