The Chicago Blackhawks continued their push in the Western Conference standings last night, defeating the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 4-1 in the second of back-to-back games for Chicago. It was the third win in a row for the Hawks, who are now just four points out of a Wild Card spot.
Corey Crawford would get the start in his hometown, making 31 saves and improving his career record to 10-2-2 against the Canadiens; including a 6-0-2 record when playing in Montreal.
With strong starts lacking for Chicago this year, fourth-liner Zack Smith would get things rolling early for a change. After a strong forecheck by Drake Caggiula, Montreal goalie Charlie Lindgren lost the puck behind the net, allowing Caggiula to set up a wide-open Smith for the shorthanded goal. Less than three minutes later and after a dominant fourth-line shift by Chicago, Smith would score his second goal of the game, deflecting a shot from Hawk defender Slater Koekkoek.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 16, 2020
Ex-Blackhawk Philip Danault would cut the Hawks’ lead in half early in the second period, snapping a shot from just inside the face-off circle. The lone goal would be all the Habs would muster in the game, as the Hawks’ special teams shined, going 3-for-3 on the penalty kill (which included a short-handed goal) and 1-for-3 on the power play.
Alex Debrincat would restore Chicago’s two-goal lead midway through the second by rocketing a one-timer from Patrick Kane on the power play. The assist was Kane’s 998th point of his career, as the star-forward closes in on 1,000 points.
The 🐱 doing what he does best. Lighting the lamp!!! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/E6WhK7Bhxr
— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) January 16, 2020
Drake Caggiula, who recently returned after suffering a concussion, continued his strong play since being reinserted in the lineup, stealing the puck from Montreal’s Jordan Weal and scoring on a breakaway.
If the return of Caggiula is any indication, the Hawks will only get stronger when players like Dylan Strome and Brandon Saad — who are both listed as day-to-day — overcome their injuries. Unlike Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan — who will undergo surgeries and miss the remainder of the season — Andrew Shaw may be eligible to return from concussion protocol this year, but his timeline is unknown.
With their current three-game winning streak, the Hawks have now moved two spots up in the Western Conference standings, surpassing both Nashville and Minnesota. After a two-day rest, the Blackhawks will enter Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs just four points out of a Wild Card spot; and only six points out of the third spot in the Central Division.
As the Hawks pursue their fourth straight win and a sweep of their three-game Canadian road trip, Patrick Kane will also have a chance to become the 90th player in NHL history to record 1,000 points on what will be Hockey Night in Canada.