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.”
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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.”