Blackhawks’ Crawford blanks Canadiens 5-0
MONTREAL — The Chicago Blackhawks seem to have figured out how to fix their scoring woes.
Kris Versteeg scored twice, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves in his 11th NHL shutout as the Blackhawks ended a two-game losing streak with a 5-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
“It was nice to see some bounces go our way,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “We had some good chances the last little while and didn’t get some bounces, but we stayed positive and it worked out good.”
The Blackhawks were 2-5 in their previous seven games in which they outshot opponents by wide margins but couldn’t get many pucks in the net.
That changed against the Canadiens (8-4-1), who are winless in three games and 1-3-1 in their last five. Montreal absorbed a second straight lopsided defeat at home, following a 6-2 loss to Calgary on Sunday.
Jonathan Toews, netted his 200th NHL goal, and Brad Richards and Patrick Kane also scored for Chicago (7-5-1), which came off a 1-0 home loss to Winnipeg on Sunday despite holding a 33-27 edge in shots.
In the Blackhawks’ previous game, they outshot Toronto 47-27 and lost 3-2.
Chicago beat goalie Carey Price with five of its 32 shots.
“It’s a good feeling in here right now,” Keith said. “We know we’ve been struggling to score goals lately, and I thought we did a good job of playing all five guys together on the ice and working as a team.
“We had guys going to the net and we kept it simple — throw it at the net.”
The win might have come at a cost for Chicago as forward Patrick Sharp was helped off the ice six minutes into the third period after a solid, but legal hit into the boards by Alexei Emelin.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Sharp sustained a lower-body injury and would be evaluated in the next couple of days. He called it a “tough break” and said Sharp will be “out for a bit,” but didn’t elaborate.
“We have some guys with skill who want more ice time,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see how it works out.”
The Canadiens had a solid first period but seemed to come unglued after Versteeg gave Chicago a 2-0 lead 9:57 into the second.
“Usually we show character after that happens, but this time we didn’t,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “We only played a half a game.
“Our transition game is not there. It’s like a relay race — if you don’t get the baton, you can’t race.”
It was the first shutout of the season for Crawford, a Montreal native.
“There’s nothing that’s been ailing us,” Crawford said. “We’ve been playing good hockey and creating chances. We just weren’t getting the bounces.
“Nobody got frustrated in here. We kept playing hard. We created some chances tonight and buried them.”
Montreal’s P.A. Parenteau, David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher all missed early chances before Toews put Chicago ahead with a power-play goal at 11:19. The Blackhawks captain deflected in Keith’s point shot.
The Blackhawks then scored when Versteeg’s pass from the corner went off Rene Bourque’s leg and in on the short side.
Richards was at the doorstep to deflect Sharp’s pass into the top corner 2:22 into the third period to make it 3-0.
Four minutes later, Sharp was helped off the ice after he was hit by Emelin.
Kane fought off a check from Dale Weise to finish a feed from Toews at 12:31. Versteeg scored his second of the night into an open side off of Bryan Bickell’s pass.
Price made a spectacular save late in the first when he got his stick down to thwart Jeremy Morin on the doorstep, and then pushed a puck hovering in the crease over the net with his glove.
The Blackhawks hadn’t won in Montreal since Dec. 3, 2001. … The Canadiens have allowed the first goal in 11 of 13 games and haven’t held the lead after the first period this season. … Chicago D Niklas Hjalmarsson played in his 400th NHL game. … Michael Bournival played his first game of the season for Montreal. … The Blackhawks juggled lines, putting Toews and Kane on the same unit.
*Photo courtesy of Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images