Blackhawks top Canadiens to push Quenneville past Arbour
MONTREAL — The Chicago Blackhawks are flying high and helped their coach make a little history.
Goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 39 shots — including 17 in the third period — to help the Blackhawks to their ninth straight win and, at the same time, make coach Joel Quenneville into the second-winningest coach in NHL history.
“It was a good win for us and Corey was spectacular tonight,” said Quenneville, who moved past legendary bench boss Al Arbour with his 783rd career victory. “I liked the way we played throughout the game. I feel very fortunate and honored to be in some great company over the years. It happened fast and quick, but I feel very fortunate.”
Center Jonathan Toews and left winger Ryan Garbutt scored for Chicago (29-13-4), which moved into a tie with Dallas for first in the Central Division and Western Conference.
Left winger Paul Byron connected for Montreal (23-18-3) and goalie Mike Condon made 31 saves for the Canadiens, who are 6-13-1 in their last 20 games. The Habs have scored at least three goals only three times during that stretch.
“You’ve got to score goals to win games and we didn’t score goals,” left winger Max Pacioretty said. “A bit flat, not our best first period. We played well in the second and third, very well in the third. But this has happened before, lack of scoring. It’s been a big part of the last month and a half or so. We’ve got to find ways to score goals.”
Toews opened the scoring with his 17th of the season at 8:26 of the first period. Defenseman Duncan Keith dished off to Andrew Shaw along the left-wing boards. The left winger skated into the circle and fired a shot from the dot that Condon saved, but Shaw picked up the rebound and sent a tape-to-tape cross-crease pass to an uncovered Toews to the right of the net.
Byron tied the game just over two minutes later. Center David Desharnais picked up defenseman P.K. Subban’s feed in the neutral zone and skated it up the right side before tossing a backhand shot from the hashmarks on Crawford. Byron used his speed to get behind the Blackhawks’ defense and drove to the net for a perfectly timed tip.
Garbutt restored Chicago’s lead at 12:56. Right winger Richard Panik got the puck to defenseman Michal Rozsival at the top of the right circle. His shot found its way to Garbutt inside the left circle, and Garbutt fired quickly to beat Condon top shelf.
The Canadiens pressured in the second, holding Chicago off the shot clock until six minutes in. Midway through the frame, Montreal tossed four in succession on Crawford but couldn’t get one by him.
“Grew up here, used to come watch games here,” said Crawford, a native of Chateauguay, Quebec, on Montreal’s South Shore. “It’s still kind of surreal, stepping on the ice and actually playing a game out there. I don’t think that will change any time. It’s fun to have family and friends here watching.”
Center Tomas Plekanec had one of the Canadiens’ best chances to tie the game in the second half of the period, only to miss a wide open net.
In the third period, Crawford was at the top of his game once again, denying rookie winger Daniel Carr on the doorstep.
“It’s not like we played badly, didn’t work and didn’t compete; we’ve just got to find answers,” Canadiens right winger Brendan Gallagher said. “Scoring goals isn’t easy but if you do the right things over and over again, they’ll start to go in.”
NOTES: Canadiens LW Tomas Fleischmann returned to the lineup after sitting the last two games as a healthy scratch. ... Montreal scratched RW Devante Smith-Pelly, D Jarred Tinordi and D Greg Pateryn. ... The Blackhawks scratched LW Brandon Mashinter and LW Bryan Bickell while D Erik Gustafsson missed the game with a lower-body injury. ... Chicago C Artem Anisimov flew to Montreal on Thursday after missing Tuesday’s game against Nashville with an illness. ... Canadiens D Andrei Markov dressed for his 890th career game with the team, tying Doug Harvey for 12th on the Habs’ games played list. ... Blackhawks LW Phillip Danault suited up for his first appearance in his home province since playing for his hometown of Victoriaville in the QMJHL.