As good as Anton Forsberg was last night in Toronto, Corey Crawford was even better making 41 saves in 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens tonight.
The first three games of the season saw the Blackhawks get off to a fast start and score first, but that was not the case versus the Habs. Shortly after the top line generated some great pressure on the opening shift, veteran Tomas Plekanec gave Montreal a 1-0 lead 1:15. Ryan Hartman, along the right boards, tried to pass to Patrick Kane in the middle of the ice, but Plekanec was right there to intercept the pass and quickly turned around a fired it over Corey Crawford’s glove hand.
The Canadiens continued to bring great pressure after the goal and even had a two man advantage for 35 seconds, but were able to kill both penalties off. Midway through the opening frame, Montreal had a 14-3 advantage in shots on goal.
The Blackhawks took advantage of a turnover to get on the board at 17:53 of the first period. Patrick Sharp jumped on a loose puck in the neutral zone and passed over to Alex DeBrincat in the high slot where he blasted a one-timer past Carey Price’s stick side for his first career NHL goal.
19 seconds later Brandon Saad tied the game with his team high fifth goal of the season. Saad started the rush by chasing down a loose puck and getting it to Richard Panik below the right circle before stopping right at front of the net. Panik backhanded the puck over to Jonathan Toews, who had his shot blocked by Shea Weber, but Saad was perfectly positioned to slam the puck past Price.
The Blackhawks dictated play for much of the second period even though the Habs had some sustained pressure late in the frame. Artem Anisimov extended the Blackhawks lead to 3-1 with a power play goal at 10:44. Cody Franson made a nice cross ice feed to DeBrincat at the bottom of the right circle who passed the puck through the crease for an easy tap in goal by Anisimov.
For the second straight night, the Blackhawks had a 3-1 lead in the third period and got owned in Corsi. Thankfully tonight Crawford was able to answer the bell and stopped all 16 shots he saw over the final 20 minutes. There is no doubt that number 50 was the best player on the ice.
After dominating 5 v 5 play during the first two games, the last two nights have been worrisome. However, the penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5 tonight which is encouraging. The Blackhawks will return to home ice on Thursday night when they host the Minnesota Wild.