It might have been a struggling Chicago Blackhawks team the Montreal Canadiens faced last niight, but it is still one that can count on firepower. The Habs couldn’t simply go into this game thinking it would be easy.
A bad line change allowed the ‘Hawks to get the first shot of the game. The Habs countered shortly afterward, but a high-sticking penalty from Tomas Tatar gave the first real offensive chance of the game to Chicago. Fortunately, the worst power play in the league couldn’t capitalize
After a 2-on-1 chance for Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin, a prolonged offensive presence for Montreal, Brett Kulak wired a shot on net. It went high, deflected off a defender and onto Crawford, then back to the blade of Domi, who didn’t miss the empty cage.
A few minutes later, Kenny Agostino fed the hardest shot in the league after circling behind and the net, and just like that Shea Weber made it 2-0 Habs.
With Price dialed in at the other end of the ice, Montreal was in full control early in the first period.
Tomas Tatar took a second penalty, tripping an opponent, to threaten that dominance. The Blackhawks, again, couldn’t really threaten Montreal with a man advantage, but the power play still seemed to give them some momentum as they had the advantage on the shot clock for the rest of the period, culminating with another infraction by Weber, this time for shooting the puck over the glass.
The Canadiens couldn’t make it through another penalty kill, as Patrick Kane sniped the puck past Carey Price to cut the lead in half.
The game was just as open to start the second period. Brendan Gallagher centred the puck to Tatar from the corner, who hit the post at the right of Crawford. A few minutes later, Byron used his explosive speed, drove wide on the defender, and cut in front of Crawford, who closed the door.
Kane scored his second of the game on a one-timer when he was completely forgotten by the Habs’ defence. The pass reached him crossing through a wide-spread defensive box to tie the game
To make matters worse, Byron had been out of action after a slash on his left ankle from Brandon Manning. The good news, however, is that he came back a few minutes after the tying goal.
The Habs had a couple of chances to take back the lead with a power play soon after, but, as expected, couldn’t muster any dangerous chances and even had trouble getting in the zone. It was an embarrassing end to the period.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi created the best chance for the Habs at the dawn of the third. Still with a man advantage, he blasted into the zone, used a defender as a screen, and released a high shot on Crawford, but it’s gloved down.
Shea Weber tried to inject some energy into the team with a big hit on Artem Anisimov, who didn’t appreciate it and went after the captain. Nothing came of the altercation.
Shortly after, Mike Reilly spun to beat a forechecker on the breakout, but is too slow to react and the puck is stolen away from him, forcing Tatar to once again commit an infraction, a cross-check, to help prevent a goal.
The Habs killed the penalty, but right at the end of it Jordie Benn also went to the penalty box, having hit Dylan Strome with a high stick. The Habs then had to kill a four-minute penalty following, which could have been a turning point in the contest.
Thanks to some marvelous work from Price and Byron, the Habs killed the full four minutes. The ‘Hawks were dominating in the shot department, but it was still a 2-2 game.
Montreal then got a great opportunity to take the lead with successive penalties to the Blackhawks, overlapping for a full minute of a 5-on-3. History repeated itself as they failed to capitalize on the sequence, the best chance orchestrated once again by Kotkaniemi.
It was then the Habs’ turn to be penalized again. The first one went to Lehkonen in the offensive zone, and the second a few seconds after the kill to Gallagher for a high-stick. Price stood tall, making saves with every piece of his equipment, including his helmet. The Habs came out of the short-handed sequences still tied.
With a minute left, Tatar redeemed himself for his early penalties. He redirected a point shot from Jeff Petry to make it 3-2, and Montreal held on until the final horn sounded.
They get out of Chicago with a win despite an undisciplined performance.
- With the amount of low-to-high plays the Habs attempt — passes from forwards to defencemen in the offensive zone — it is great for them to have the return of the incredibly powerful shot of Shea Weber.
- Jesperi Kotkaniemi was by far the most creative player on the ice for the Habs.
- Carey Price stole this game for the Habs.