Blackhawks

Blackhawks extend point streak to 11 games with win over Canadiens

Blackhawks extend point streak to 11 games with win over Canadiens

The night started with the Blackhawks welcoming back Andrew Shaw to Chicago. It ended with the Blackhawks gaining one more big victory before bidding Chicago goodbye for a few weeks.

Patrick Kane’s dazzling goal proved to be the game-winner and Corey Crawford stopped 21 of 23 shots, including some critical ones at the end, as the Blackhawks held off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Sunday night. The Blackhawks ran their unbeaten streak to 11 games (9-0-2) and were happy with their all-around game.

“I think with everything on the line, we’ve gotten better,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “These four or five games were probably the best as far as generating and not having to defend as much.”

Gustav Forsling scored his first career NHL goal and Marian Hossa scored his fourth in as many games. Chicago product Al Montoya had a strong game for Montreal, stopping 32 of 35 shots.

If there was any team that was hotter than the Blackhawks right now it was the Canadiens, who were 13-1-1 entering this contest. That included a convincing 5-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings the previous night in Montreal. But outside of a few messy minutes to start the second period, during which the Canadiens got goals from Shea Weber (power play) and Andrei Markov, the Blackhawks were the better team on Sunday.

Hossa was in front of the net to score off Nick Schmaltz’s shot from the blue line for a 2-2 game 11:29 into the second period. Just five minutes later came Kane’s eye-popping goal, one on which he got around Jeff Petry and, while falling, scored his sixth of the season.

“I just tried to make a play, got tripped up, at that point you’re just throwing the net hoping something happens,” Kane said. “I got lucky there. Nice to see it go in.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks probably could’ve gotten more if not for Montoya, who stopped several Grade-A opportunities. Crawford was doing the same at the end, his biggest stop coming against Alex Galchenyuk with about 20 seconds remaining in regulation. He also stopped Shaw, who led all players with six shots on goal, at critical times.

“We’re progressing in a good way, a lot of quality chances tonight and timely saves at the right time by Crow,” Quenneville said. “Good, almost like a penalty kill at the end. Good two points.”

The Blackhawks have sometimes looked to the Circus Trip to get the cohesiveness they may lack in the first month or so of the season. Right now, they’re rounding into form before they even pack their bags.

“We talked about it: be strong toward the end because we’re coming up on two weeks on the road,” Hossa said. “We did a lot of good things tonight.”

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

NHL Draft Profile: D Evan Bouchard

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Evan Bouchard

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 193 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A highly intelligent defenseman with exceptional vision and offensive instincts. He reads the play very well and his passing ability allows him to be a constant threat in his team's transition game. He's one of the top offensive-defenseman in the Canadian Hockey League and magician-like when quarterbacking the power play."

NHL player comparable: John Carlson/Alex Pietrangelo

Fit for Blackhawks:

At 6-foot-2, 193 pounds, Bouchard is one of the most NHL-ready defensemen in this year's draft and that could be appetizing for a team like the Blackhawks, who are looking for immediate help on the blue line. But Bouchard is a right-handed shot, and drafting him would add a third high-end right-handed shot defenseman to the organization, along with prospects Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell.

You can never have enough of them, but there's only room for three before somebody would have to play on their off hand and that would mean the third would be playing on the bottom pairing. All three of these players have Top 4 potential.

Still, that may not even come into play here. The Blackhawks will seek to take the best available player, like they always have. And if they feel it's Bouchard, they'll do it.

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

NHL Draft Profile: F Brady Tkachuk

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Brady Tkachuk

Position: Forward
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 196 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"I know Tkachuk isn't a center, but Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks) is another player who comes to mind with his combination of size, strength, skill and nastiness. Tkachuk has impressive hand skills and his upside has only begun because I think there's lots of maturity and growth to come. I've seen his speed and skating improve each of the past three years and I think he'll still get stronger and his balance will get better. His man strength will come and it'll be like, 'Oh boy, look out.'"

NHL player comparable: Matthew Tkachuk/Wayne Simmonds

Fit for Blackhawks:

If you're looking for a player that checks all the boxes in this year's draft, it's Tkachuk. And man could the Blackhawks use a player like him.

He's got offensive skill, willingly goes to the greasy areas, can provide net-front presence while playing a top-six role, and perhaps the most important part for the Blackhawks: he's very close to NHL ready. The Blackhawks will be patient with whoever they draft, but there's also some urgency to turn things around in 2018-19.

If they can draft a player like Tkachuk who can potentially jump into the lineup as early as this upcoming season, that would be ideal. Because he's the type of player that can make an impact, not just get by.