After struggling to score in the first few weeks of the season, the Montreal Canadiens have been filling the net recently, scoring at least five goals in each of their four most recent wins.
It hasn’t been just one member of the team coming through offensively, but several players all breaking out around the same time. In the last six games, the team has seen two-goal performances from Shea Weber, Phillip Danault, Charles Hudon, Artturi Lehkonen, Brendan Gallagher, and, most recently, Andrew Shaw.
The added offensive confidence was needed in last night’s game versus the Winnipeg Jets. After going down by two partway through the third, the Canadiens didn’t give up hope, and got rewarded with the final three goals of the game, including the overtime winner.
The victory gave the team a winning record after three of the four games that will be played on their current road trip. Montreal makes its final stop before returning to the Bell Centre on Tuesday, taking on the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center tonight.
How to watch
Puck drop: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet, Sportsnet Now (English)
In the Canadiens region: RDS (French)
In the USA: NHL Network
In the Blackhawks region: NBCSCH
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL GameCentre Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
The Blackhawks had gotten off to a relatively poor start to the season as well, holding a 5-5-2 record after 12 games. Two shutout performances in their last two contests from Corey Crawford have pulled them back above .500. Despite having played last night, with three days off before their next game on Thursday, it’s possible the coaching staff will turn to Crawford once again tonight.
Stellar goaltending has been needed in Chicago. After a 10-goal outburst in the first game of the regular season, the Blackhawks have been held to two or fewer on seven occasions in the 13 games since.
The team no longer possesses the forward depth it once did while on its Stanley Cup streak, and instead relies on younger players to fill out its roster. Cap constraints have led to the departure of some key members, while Marian Hossa was forced to leave after suddenly developing an allergy to his equipment. The result is a team that relies heavily on Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and a returning Brandon Saad for offence, while hoping players like Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz, and Alex DeBrincat can develop into stars.
Chicago’s possession numbers have been steadily slipping since being one of the top teams in that department coming out of the 2012 lockout. After barely finishing above water in the last two seasons, their Corsi-for percentage has dipped below 50% for the first time.
The Canadiens have been trending in the opposite direction, currently sitting among the top teams in the league in shot-attempt differential. They have to ability to control the pace of the game, and a continuation of that play, combined with their new-found offensive finish, will give them a very good chance of finishing the road trip with a 3-1 record.