Montreal Canadiens

Five takeaways from Blackhawks-Canadiens: Shutout streak snapped

Five takeaways from Blackhawks-Canadiens: Shutout streak snapped

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night.

1. Good show, Charlie.

Montreal goaltender Charlie Lindgren was making just his fourth career NHL start on Sunday but he looked like he’s been here a while, stopping 38 for his fourth NHL victory and first career NHL shutout. Could the Blackhawks have made life harder on him? Sure. But full marks for his work nonetheless. And as one goaltender celebrates a shutout…

2. Corey Crawford’s streak ends.

Crawford has been outstanding lately but he finally gave up a goal for the first time since the third period against Colorado on Oct. 28. Crawford got more work as the night wore on, stopping 33 of 35 shots. But Jonathan Drouin got through early in the third period, snapping Crawford’s shutout streak at 173 minutes, nine seconds.

3. Captain’s chances.

Jonathan Toews had several good scoring opportunities on Sunday but came up empty. Lindgren thwarted him early and there were a few near misses (he hit the post not long after the Blackhawks’ power play early in the second period). Toews was all around the net against the Canadiens but couldn’t get one past Lindgren.

4. More line changes coming?

The Blackhawks tinkered with a few more combinations late Sunday night but to no avail. Guess what they’ll likely do when they reconvene for practice on Tuesday. “We probably went longer than we would’ve liked without production, so we’ll look at it again,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But if you don’t like the results or the production end of it, we’ll look to try something else.”

5. Time to worry?

The Blackhawks have rarely been concerned about 5-on-5 scoring because they’ve always had plenty of it. Can’t say that right now. Nothing is working, and the Blackhawks have to come up with answers – and goals – fast.

Blackhawks offense sputters yet again vs. Canadiens

Blackhawks offense sputters yet again vs. Canadiens

The broken record played again on Sunday night. Corey Crawford shutting out an opponent, at least for a while, on one end. The Blackhawks not finding any offense at the other. Sure, there’s been a power-play goal here or an empty-net goal there, but nothing consistent and little on 5-on-5.

Right now for the Blackhawks, it’s either Crawford shutout or bust.

Another game another listless offensive outing for the Blackhawks. They could talk about their opportunities against Charlie Lindgren, the good chances the young Montreal goaltender stopped (38 saves in all), the rebounds he gave up that the Blackhawks couldn’t get to and the near misses the Blackhawks had. It’s easy to say something should happen when you get 38 shots on goal but it again comes down to quality. There was some, but there could’ve been more.

“When you see the shot totals high with no goals, maybe some are coming from the outside, not enough second efforts in front of the goaltenders, taking his eyes away and getting those loose pucks around the net,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have to find a way to generate more offense and help our goaltender out.”

It goes beyond Sunday. The Blackhawks have one 5-on-5 goal in their last three games (Jonathan Toews’ breakaway midway through their victory over Philadelphia on Wednesday). The Blackhawks have tried different line combinations, and they did a little more mixing in the third period on Sunday night, but it hasn’t yielded much. The Blackhawks rarely used to worry about 5-on-5 scoring. Now, as coach Joel Quenneville said following Sunday’s game, they’re “starting to think about it.”

“I don’t know if we need a bounce to get some confidence or get more traffic at the net when our D are shooting the puck. We’re making it too easy on the goaltenders,” Nick Schmaltz said. “[Lindgren] made some great saves, don’t get me wrong. We had some backdoor [chances] we could bear down on a little more on. But it’s just getting to the net and creating more second-chance opportunities and sustaining pucks in the offensive zone.”

Patrick Kane said it’s “definitely frustrating right now.”

“It seems like we either have the chances or we're not really producing much. It's not really fun when it’s going that way,” he said. “That just comes with being more confident around the net. Being a little bit more patient if the puck comes on your stick. Take that extra second and put it where it needs to be.”

The necessary goaltending on one end, the inexplicable inability to score at the other. It’s been a broken record for the Blackhawks this early season, and it keeps spinning.

“We just have to bear down,” Schmaltz said. “Hopefully one game we break out and we won’t be talking about this anymore.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return home to face Canadiens

11-5_mtl_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return home to face Canadiens

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Montreal Canadiens tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Which goalie matchup will we see?

Before Wednesday, Corey Crawford went nearly a year without recording a shutout. Now he's got two in as many games. The 32-year-old Blackhawks netminder turned in a 35-save performance in a 3-0 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday Night Rivalry, then followed that up by blanking Minnesota 2-0 with 24 saves.

To make the decision more difficult, Crawford owns an 8-0-2 record with a 1.49 goals against average and .954. save percentage in 10 career starts against the Canadiens. Will Joel Quenneville ride the hot hand on the second of a back-to-back and play Crawford against his hometown team or will he give the nod to Anton Forsberg, who's still looking for his first win of the season?

On Montreal's side, Carey Price traveled to Chicago but is still listed as day to day with a lower body injury. Claude Julien told reporters Saturday night he's unsure whether he'll roll with Chicago native Al Montoya for the second straight night or 23-year-old Charlie Lindgren.

2. Can Artem Anisimov keep his goal streak going?

After scoring one goal in his first 10 games to start the season, Anisimov has found the back of the net in each of his last four. Most importantly, two of those goals have come on the power play, which is 2-for-22 in its last five contests.

Getting that net-front presence is crucial for the Blackhawks offense both at even strength and the man advantage, and Anisimov providing that helps take pressure off the top six.

3. Andrew Shaw coming in hot.

The former Blackhawks forward is coming back to a familiar place, and he's bringing a hot stick with him.

Shaw went goalless in his first 12 games to start the campaign, but he's scored three goals in his last two and you know he'll be even hungrier to keep that streak going against his old club.

He registered four shots on goal and had a minor penalty in the team's first meeting against Chicago, a 3-1 loss in Montreal on Oct. 10.