After Saturday night's overtime loss to the Blues, the Canadiens had essentially entered desperation mode in their search for wins. In order to get one of those, they'd have to do so on no rest, against a Chicago Blackhawks team that entered Sunday night's tilt on a 10-game winning streak.
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As has been the case lately, it didn't start very well at all. Less than three minutes into the game, Richard Panik would get his first goal as a member of the Blackhawks. He beat Ben Scrivens over the shoulder with a one-timer, and it looked like the rout might be on, as the Habs had yet to get a shot on goal.
It took the Habs nearly seven minutes to get that first shot, but it would prove to be important. Jeff Petry was stopped by Corey Crawford, but Lars Eller pounced on the rebound to tie the game up at one. They've had virtually no bounces going their way lately, so it was nice to see them get a little luck.
While the Habs managed to escape the first period with the score tied at one, it wasn't all that close. They were outshot 10-6, out-attempted 21-17, and it was clear they needed to be better in subsequent frames to avoid letting the Hawks open up the score.
Torrey Mitchell was twice penalized in the second period, the second such occasion being due to a high stick that wasn't actually his. During the kill for that ghost call, Paul Byron was up to his usual antics, and got loose on a clear breakaway but could not finish.
There was a flurry of penalties just beyond the midway point of the period, and it was of course Chicago who would capitalize and take the lead. A mad scramble near the Habs net during a Hawks power play allowed Marian Hossa to bang one past Scrivens, who was completely turned around on the play.
It turned out Jonathan Toews was clearly offside before that second Hawks goal, but Michel Therrien didn't bother to challenge for whatever reason. That burned him late in the period, as the aforementioned Toews would grab the puck behind the net after a waved off icing call, and put one in on the wraparound to make it 3-1.
They did manage to climb back to within one in the third, thanks to a delay of game penalty. The Habs powerplay went to work in desperation mode, and eventually Max Pacioretty was able to bang it home in the slot, giving his team some life with the score now 3-2
But hopes of a comeback would be promptly dashed by the Hawks. Shortly after the Pacioretty marker, Patrick Kane took a cross ice feed from Artemi Panarin, and wired it home to restore the two goal lead. That would be all she wrote, as the Habs would pull Scrivens, but an empty netter would make the final score 5-2 for the Blackhawks.
- There is literally no excuse for Michel Therrien not challenging the second Hawks goal. I have no idea how they didn't catch that, because he sure saw fit to challenge a clearly good goal the night before. An absolutely brutal and embarrassing mistake for him, and really the entire coaching staff for missing that.
- I have tried to be positive any time that I've recapped a loss this year, but I can't this time. This was an embarrassing game, this has been an embarrassing stretch, and silver linings just aren't enough at this point in the season.They need wins, and right now they're just not getting them. This is getting insanely frustrating.
- The only time that it looked like there was any urgency in their game was when they were already down in the third period. Why it takes a third period deficit to bring about good play like that is beyond me. Once they were down by two they actually started carrying the puck out of their zone and into the offensive zone. It was good hockey. Why that isn't the hockey they play at all times is maddening.
- I suppose I can give it a shot at a positive, just to avoid pure negativity. Paul Byron and Lars Eller were fantastic last night in the loss. They controlled over 60% of even-strength shot attempts when they were on the ice, and did this while starting a mere 14.29% and 11.11% of their shifts in the offensive zone respectively. Certainly neither could be used as a scapegoat for the loss.