There was no passing of the torch before the Montreal Canadiens' home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. In fact, the entire pre-game intro lacked the pomp and circumstance often seen in the first home game of the season.
Since this is Montreal, the lack of celebration could be a talking point on local sports radio by the time you read this recap. But it, understandably, will take a back seat to the Canadiens’ three-game losing streak, their defence, and a lack of finish.
The Bleu-Blanc-Rouge lost 3-1 to the Hawks and have now lost three straight games since their season opening win over Buffalo on Thursday. Montreal has out-shot their last three opponents 115-73, but has only scored twice in that span.
Montreal drew first blood over a minute into the game thanks to Tomas Plekanec. The Czech forward took advantage of a turnover in the Chicago zone, turning and firing one past goaltender Corey Crawford. It was the first time the Canadiens took a lead in a game this season.
It wasn't in front of the net, like coach Claude Julien has yearned for, but it got the job done.
I hope Plekanec went back to the bench and told Claude Julien, "so much for your big theory of going to the net" and sat down with a grin.— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) October 10, 2017
The Canadiens' lead wouldn't last long, however, as it only took 19 seconds for the Blackhawks to tie the game, and to score another, taking the lead.
Rookie Alex DeBrincat scored his first NHL goal with a little over two minutes to go in the first, before teammate Brandon Saad gave Chicago a 2-1 advantage moments later. Victor Mete was helpless on the go-ahead tally as he couldn't fend off two Chicago forwards in his area, and Saad potted home the eventual game-winner.
Montreal allowed a power-play goal from Artem Anisimov in the second period. Anisimov finished off a passing play by being in the right place — the front of the net — at the right time.
Neither team scored in the third period, and it proved to be enough for the Blackhawks. The Canadiens couldn't solve Crawford after the Plekanec goal, as the Chateauguay native made 41 saves on 42 shots. Crawford is now 8-0-2 against the Canadiens. Carey Price made 19 saves in the loss.
- The Canadiens got their chances against the Blackhawks, and a good chunk of them came in front of the net. Per Natural Stat Trick, the Canadiens led Chicago in high-danger chances, 11-3. Alas, one goal to show for it (which came just outside the slot), isn't enough.
- The power play went 0-for-5 against the Hawks Tuesday. The Habs had 11 shots on five opportunities, and they should've shot more. They are now 0-for-14 on the power play for the season.
- Charles Hudon was a significant bright spot for the Canadiens with four shots on target and five hits. He's hustling hard and that first NHL goal should be coming soon.
The Canadiens won't play again until Saturday, when they'll put a 14-game winning streak against the Toronto Maple Leafs on the line at the Bell Centre.