MONTREAL – Patrick Kane's been on a productive roll lately. Corey Crawford always has a strong night in his hometown. That made for a successful combination on Tuesday night.
Kane had a goal and two assists to share the NHL points lead with Connor McDavid (76) and Crawford stopped 40 of 42 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Tuesday night. With the Minnesota Wild's 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, the Blackhawks move back into first in the Western Conference. The Wild still have a game in hand.
But it came with a loss – at least for the rest of this game. Artem Anisimov suffered a left-leg injury when Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov fell into Anisimov's legs at the end of the first period. Despite Anisimov having to be helped off the ice by trainers, coach Joel Quenneville said afterward that Anisimov was, "day-to-day… not serious, so we'll see how he does over the next two days."
Nick Schmaltz, who came in for Anisimov on March 1 when Anisimov suffered a lower-body injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins, did it again on Tuesday night and the second line kept on going. Schmaltz's slick pass set up Artemi Panarin's 23rd of the season, which also proved to be the game-winning goal.
"I knew [Panarin] was over there somewhere, got the puck from Kaner and knew he was driving, so I just did a no-look. Lucky it was right on his tape and he doesn't miss from there very often," Schmaltz said of Panarin. "Good play by Kaner to give it to me and glad he finished it off."
Another somewhat scary moment came in the second period when Shea Weber's scorching shot hit Crawford in the mask, knocking the Blackhawks goaltender flat on his back. Crawford took a moment to get back to his feet and talked with a Blackhawks trainer on the ice, but did not leave the game.
Quenneville said head athletic trainer Mike Gapski checked Crawford on the ice and all was well. Crawford said he didn't think about leaving the game.
"No, it's just I didn't have time to get out of the way. Hard shot, slow pass and I tried to just take the angle away," Crawford said. "Too bad he smoked me there."
The Canadiens made it interesting late, with Paul Byron and Weber getting pucks past Crawford to cut the Blackhawks' lead to 3-2. But Jonathan Toews' empty-net goal with 1:22 remaining in regulation sealed it.
Crawford seemingly came away from a scary shot alright, Anisimov's injury may not be as bad as originally feared and the Blackhawks came away with another big victory on the road. They're finding success at a critical time of the season, and could come away with the division.
"We'd like to move ahead," Quenneville said. "We keep trying to push ahead or stay head. Every game's competitive but starting this road trip we did a lot of good things. Let's keep it going."