Call of the Wilde: Chicago Blackhawks shut out the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 – Global News

Call of the Wilde: Chicago Blackhawks shut out the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 - Global News
Blackhawks Crawford blanks slumping Canadiens
The word as long as three months ago at the Call Of The Wilde was that it was going to take 97 points to make the playoffs in the strong East Conference this season.

That looks to be close to the eventual mark, meaning the Montreal Canadiens have to play outstanding hockey to close this season to get to that target. With 11 games left in the year, the Habs must finish with an 8 and 3 mark to make the post-season. They either need a mark that strong, or hope that either the Columbus Blue Jackets or Carolina Hurricanes go into the tank.

It was the second time this season, and 18th since 1955-56, that a goalie has made at least 48 saves in a shutout. Anton Khudobin of the Dallas Stars made 49 saves in a 2-0 win at the Nashville Predators on Dec. 27, 2018. … Crawford and Tony Esposito are the only Chicago goalies to have multiple shutouts in Montreal. … Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane played his 892nd game, passing Steve Larmer for ninth all-time for Chicago. … DeBrincat has 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in his past 13 games. 

They tried hard, they skated miles and they went to the dirty areas trying to get goals. They peppered the goalie with 48 shots. You can’t say that the Habs didn’t give it their all.

They couldn’t get it done, though. The most satisfying aspect of the game was the ceremony before it, honouring Carey Price for win 315, passing Jacques Plante as the Habs best all-time. They presented Price with a Habs jersey with the number 315 on it, signed by all the players.

“Its desperation time. Its all about trying to keep that positive attitude and negativity isnt going to help us at all. Theres no feeling sorry for ourselves so its pretty easy to get up [Sunday] and rest and come back to work on Monday. And weve got to keep driving.” — Canadiens goalie Carey Price

Price seemed to really be touched by that gesture. He was also touched by the extremely warm standing ovation he received from the usual full house at the Bell Centre. Price then went out and did everything in his power to get a win for the fans and the for the team. He did his part. The rest of the players were not able to, though, despite a good effort. The puck would not bounce; the ‘Hawks goalie, Corey Crawford, would not co-operate. They needed two points.

“He was excellent,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Thats what he can do, and obviously it is in Montreal and hes pretty comfortable here, had a lot of success here, so he had a lot of confidence and it gives the team a lot of confidence that hes going to come through for us.”

A hell of an effort doesn’t register in the standings, so there are no blessings when losing is death. This 2-0 loss felt like death.

“[Crawford] was unbelievable,” Murphy said. “A couple of those saves, even in tight, they had a rebound right in front of them and it seemed like he almost tracked it into his glove, it was that good. And some of those saves seemed impossible, but thats why were happy to have him.”

Corey Crawford makes 48 saves as Blackhawks shut out Canadiens

It’s human nature it seems to jump on a bandwagon to criticize one player in particular, but the Habs have had quite a lot of players recently who have slowed down. Jonathan Drouin is the easiest one to call out, with points in just one game in the last dozen. But one can simply keep going right through most of the lineup, too:

“I thought we played really well, and even though they were coming with pressure at the end, we didnt panic,” Crawford said. “We kept things to the outside and then waited for pucks to come into the middle and break it out, so that was great by us not to lose our cool at the end.”

Canadiens vs. Blackhawks Top Six Minutes: Crawford stonewalls the Habs

Brett Kulak is giving the puck away a lot, and his pinches at the offensive blue line seem to always go poorly.

Im very proud obviously, first and foremost, to be standing here today with this puck in my hand, said Price Thursday night after breaking Plantes record. Im definitely thankful for all the help Ive gotten along the way.

When the Habs were winning a lot of games, they looked like an extremely fast team. In the last three weeks, though, they don’t look fast at all. Where did all that speed go? Point a finger at one player if you would like, but this late-season swoon is about most of the players on the team.

Price, who broke Jacques Plantes record with a 3-1 win over the Red Wings on Thursday night, received a tribute prior to puck drop tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks.  

Numbers Game: Blackhawks @ Canadiens

The club was featuring speed, talked about speed and played with speed. Five guys were joining the rush; five guys were hustling back. It was 200-foot hockey. It finally felt like management got it — that they believed in something that was beyond themselves, which was in their careers a journeyman defenceman with an outstanding attitude.

Price was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2005 NHL draft. His win over the Red Wings gives him 29 on the season, improving his record to 315-221-67 in 12 seasons with Montreal.

2-0 loss to Blackhawks puts Canadiens in playoff jeopardy

It seemed the head coach and GM finally believed in the excitement of skating and creating. The name of the game for four months in a Habs uniform, starting in the heady days of October, was getting the puck up as fast as possible to lightning-fast wingers moving in full stride. That would back up the opposition’s defenders and the ice would be tilted in Montreal’s favour.

Plante, as we all know, is a Hall of Famer and a Canadiens legend. He spent parts of 11 seasons with the club, winning five straight Stanley Cups in the late 1950s.

So let’s assess, then, what the last month of this campaign has looked like for the organization. Christian Folin was brought in, but he can’t play with speed at all. Nate Thompson was brought in, but he doesn’t bring the fast-transition hockey that was working for the Habs. Mike Reilly started to get benched, so there goes one player with a fast transition ability. Matthew Peca couldn’t get on the ice much, so there went his speed up to the press box. Jordan Weal became a darling of the coach so much he even got power play time.

Blackhawks at Canadiens: Five things to watch

Think about how that settled with the Habs veterans, who suddenly see Weal come in to take their opportunity to get power play time. Also on the topic of hierarchy, imagine the players who are desperate for a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, pick up the game-sheet to see the ice time after two periods tonight and see Weal is the top forward and Jesperi Kotkaniemi is last.

Conversely, the Blackhawks arrive in Montreal amid their strongest stretch of the season, capped by a 5-4 win in Toronto as +200 underdogs on Wednesday. Chicago is set as a +130 underdog for Saturday despite posting wins in their past four, as well as riding a four-game win streak in road dates with the Canadiens, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

This sits very poorly with players. This fringe and journeyman NHLer Weal, who has just arrived on the scene, leads the team in ice time among forwards. The players who have sweat and have fought all season long can’t make sense of that. They see that sheet and think they’re not losing ice time to star Matt Duchene who was brought in, they’re losing it to fringe player Jordan Weal. Another huge matter is they also can’t make sense that they were in the playoffs at the trading deadline at the end of February and their GM didn’t get them Duchene or someone strong to help to take it home. They believed in themselves, but they didn’t feel that the GM believed in them. At the same time, their style suddenly started to feature cycling and dump-ins. Roster decisions and ice time favoured defence instead of offence. They went from being chased to chasing the game. They didn’t seem to be backing anyone up on the blue line anymore.

Video: 03/16/19 Condensed Game: Blackhawks @ Canadiens

The style that the Habs were presenting to their opposition in November and December was gone. And now so are the wins — and soon so is the playoffs.

The Canadiens’ struggles have come during a 15-game stretch that has featured 11 games on the road. The team posted wins in just three of those road contests, but has fared far better on home ice, posting wins in seven of 10, while holding opponents to two or fewer goals on five occasions.

The best Habs prospects are on fire this weekend. At the junior level, Nick Suzuki continues to pile up the points. The Guelph Storm chalked up a win over the Erie Otters last night, and Suzuki put on a show again with one goal and three assists. This season, Suzuki has played in only 58 games and has 34 goals and 60 assists.

His point totals have all been around this level for the three seasons that he has played junior hockey, but this is the best he has shown as a complete player.

The Montreal Canadiens look to remain in the hunt for a wild card in the NHL’s Eastern Conference when they return home on Saturday to battle the resurgent Chicago Blackhawks as -160 favourites on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

He doesn’t just get assists and goals. They’re often highlight reel material. At the college level, Cayden Primeau is turning into one heck of a sleeper pick in the seventh round by Trevor Timmins. The playoffs are on for Northeastern and the Huskies didn’t play particularly well against Maine in game one, as the Black Bears dominated. Primeau had to make 41 saves on 42 shots for Northeastern to win 2-1 in overtime. A third Habs prospect was also outstanding, as Ryan Poehling played his best game of the season as the number-one team in the country Saint Cloud State started its playoffs with an easy win. Poehling had a goal as Saint Cloud State won 5-2.

Fans are hopeful that Poehling will declare that he is a professional after his season is over and the Habs can sign him for the last games of the season. If he doesn’t declare, there are going to be a lot of nervous people that he may play a season year and get very close to free agency status, without signing with Montreal. Many are already nervous, but Poehling has often hinted that he is excited and prepared to play for Montreal.

MONTREAL — Another incredible performance by Corey Crawford in his hometown has seriously hurt Montreals playoff chances down the stretch.

“Its desperation time. Its all about trying to keep that positive attitude, and negativity isnt going to help us at all, neither is feeling sorry for ourselves,” explained Price. “Its pretty easy to get up on Sunday and rest, and then come back to work on Monday. Youve got to keep driving.”

Crawford stopped all 48 shots he faced as the surging Chicago Blackhawks blanked the struggling Canadiens 2-0 on Saturday night.

“We were prepared for this game, but it still sucks to let this one go,” said forward Artturi Lehkonen, who came close to solving Crawford on a couple of occasions, but to no avail. “Weve got to learn from our mistakes in this game and be better next game.”

Crawford makes 48 saves in Blackhawks 2-0 win vs. Canadiens

The Montreal-born Crawford earned his second shutout of the season and improved to 9-2-2 all-time versus the Canadiens.

“Thats a big win for us against a team thats close to being in the playoffs,” said Crawford, whose 48-save outing was a career high in the regular season. “They need points too. We kept them to the outside for the most part. Our penalty kill was solid.”

“We were hitting posts, we were hitting crossbars, we were millimeters away,” said Weal. “If we play like that next game and here on out, were going to give ourselves a good chance to win.”

Crawford has never lost in regulation time in his hometown (5-0-2). Hes won his last five games at the Bell Centre.

Youd have to think that a similar effort against the Flyers on Tuesday night in Philadelphia would undoubtedly yield a better result, provided they can score, of course.

“I grew up a huge Habs fan when I was younger so its always exciting to come back and play in this building,” said Crawford, who faced 18 shots in the third period alone. “Its nice to get a win coming back here.”

Blackhawks vs. Canadiens: Preview, how to watch, lineups, TV info

Montreals playoff chances are dwindling in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens (37-28-7) are three points out of the second wild-card spot with 10 games remaining in the season — five of those are on the road.

315 – Before the puck dropped, the Canadiens held a pre-game ceremony to honor goaltender Carey Price, who set a new franchise wins record by collecting his 315th career victory earlier in the week. Surrounded by his family, the seven-time All-Star received a rousing ovation from the crowd in celebration of his outstanding achievement.

The Carolina Hurricanes are in the first wild-card spot with 85 points, one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Canadiens, who have dropped four of their past five games, are on the outside looking in with 81 points.

24 – Number of shots the Canadiens and Blackhawks combined to generate during a busy opening frame. Montreal peppered Corey Crawford with 13 shots, while Chicago put 11 shots on Price. Nobody managed to light the lamp, though, and the two teams remained scoreless through 20 minutes of play. 

“Our backs are against the wall,” said captain Shea Weber. “We have to find a way to win. Everyone is frustrated. We want to win and were not winning, so its tough.

Saturdays contest was a battle of goaltenders, with Crawford getting the better of his counterpart Carey Price, who stopped 22-of-24 shots in defeat.

Crawford needed to be on his game, with Montreal generating high-quality scoring chances in close all night long.

MONTREAL – Heres a numerical look at Saturday nights game against the Blackhawks at the Bell Centre.

The Chicago goalie denied four different Canadiens players in an 18-second span in the first period, stopping a flurry of shots from Andrew Shaw, Paul Byron, Max Domi and then Tomas Tatar.

Midway through the second, Crawford made perhaps his best save of the encounter when he robbed Artturi Lehkonen in close with a windmill glove save.

It was more of the same in the third, with Crawford stopping Joel Armia from point-blank range to preserve Chicagos two-goal lead with nine minutes left in the game.

“We were digging and we were getting in front,” said fourth-liner Jordan Weal, who had the second-most ice time among Canadiens forwards. “It was one of those nights where we couldnt put one past the goal line. Its frustrating because every game right now is so huge.

“We were generating a lot. We were hitting posts. We were hitting crossbars. We were millimetres away. If we play like that here on out, we have a good chance to win.”

Connor Murphy scored the games first goal 3:04 into the second period. The defenceman took a pass from Dylan Strome in his skates, kicked the puck onto his stick, and beat Price from the slot high glove-side.

Brendan Perlini made it 2-0 at 4:49 of the third period on a nice give-and-go with teammate Alex DeBrincat.

The game featured Montreals league-worst power play against Chicagos NHL-worst penalty kill. The Hawks came out on top, with the Canadiens going 0 for 4 with the man advantage.

“Its desperation time,” said Price. “Its about trying to keep that positive attitude. Negativity isnt going to help us at all. We have to keep driving.”

Notes: The Canadiens celebrated Prices franchise record-setting 315th career victory in a pre-game ceremony. … Montreal was coming off a tough 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.