The Chicago Blackhawks came through with a 5-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, putting an end to their recent struggles and a lengthy losing streak at the Bell Centre. The game was downright refreshing, with a steady of flow of good opportunities and some sloppy bounces finally going Chicago's way.
There's an obvious silver lining to the whole situation after Patrick Sharp left the game, and we're all certainly waiting to hear how he's looking, but in general this was the kind of performance we wanted to see out of the Blackhawks. Andrew Shaw's ongoing struggles and the like can be put aside for a day after shutting out Montreal on the road.
Here are your three stars for the night:
3. Kris Versteeg
The winger more or less got his two goals by being in the right places at the right times, but considering the way bounces have gone for the 'Hawks this season, we gotta give props. Versteeg's goal in the second period, which was initially attributed to Marcus Kruger, put big pressure on the Canadiens when they were already sputtering.
His goal in the third period padded an already huge lead, and came on a wide open net after Carey Price was caught out of position:
A good bounce, you say? Versteeg shall take that goal, thank you very much. https://t.co/BL91ri0D4J— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) November 5, 2014
Some more consistency out of the winger would certainly be nice, especially when you see the stick skills that occasionally lead to brilliant plays, but we may have to accept Versteeg for who he is. If that means stepping up for a pair of points every few games, things could be worse.
2. Jonathan Toews
There's so much to love about what Toews does every night for the Blackhawks that we could pretty much devote a section of this post to him every game. His ability to mesh with pretty much any group of wings, drive possession and create opportunities is incredible, and much of that was on full display against Montreal.
The captain scored the first goal of the game -- his fifth of the season -- on a power play midway through the first period, and followed that up with an assist on Patrick Kane's insurance goal in the third period:
Carey, you're a good goalie, but these guys can't be stopped. https://t.co/5elEgOiRu6— Second City Hockey (@2ndCityHockey) November 5, 2014
He also went 12-of-20 on faceoffs, helping make up for a rough night in that area from Brad Richards.
We saw some frustration from Toews late in the loss to the Jets on Sunday, then he came out after the game and said all the right things with his teammates. On Tuesday, that cool confidence showed itself in a building where the 'Hawks had not won in nearly 13 years.
Still, you know what's the biggest thing we should probably take away from the 'Hawks lighting up one of the best goalies in the world just days after getting blanked by Winnipeg's backup? Well, other than the fact that hockey is just a wacky game, that a good team finally got the bounces to go its way after some nasty luck.
Because guess what? that's precisely what the Blackhawks were. For too long, guys like Hutchinson and Jonas Hiller have stepped up and cranked out monster performances against this team. We kept saying it wouldn't last, because good teams don't pile shots on opponents and keep getting blanked. On Tuesday night, the Canadiens got the brunt of the luck finally going Chicago's way, and it was a pretty beautiful sight.
The Blackhawks now have the fourth-best goal differential in the NHL, just one day after many of us wondered what the hell was wrong with this team. Eventually, the team's record should be a better reflection of those numbers, too. We were cool a couple days ago, and we're still cool now.