The Chicago Blackhawks continued a late-season surge with their fifth straight win on Saturday night, shutting out the Montreal Canadiens 2-0 at the Bell Centre.
He faced 48 shots, he made 48 saves. Crawford turned in a vintage performance on Saturday night, the type of game that Crawford hadn’t been able to replicate earlier this season, adding to concerns that the concussions suffered by Crawford were still affecting him in net. But this looked like the Crawford that carried the Hawks to a 50-win season in the 2016-17 season — the last time the Blackhawks made the playoffs. And if they’re going to make something out of this final push for a playoff spot, they’ll likely need a few more outings like that from Crawford.
In Crawford’s last five starts — all wins — he’s stopped 150 of the 157 shots he’s faced (.955 SA%).
Perlini has been the biggest revelation on this latest run by the Blackhawks. With another goal against the Canadiens, Perlini now has eight goals and two assists over his last seven games, making the most of his promotion to a line with Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome.
Chicago’s playoff hopes
We’re back here again: checking the standings each morning to see how the Blackhawks are faring during this furious push for a wild card berth. With the Arizona Coyotes losing in overtime to the Edmonton Oilers, the Blackhawks remain five points back but do have a game in hand. The Minnesota Wild won on Saturday, staying five points ahead of the Hawks, but the Wild have also played one more game.
According to Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic, the Blackhawks now have a 20 percent chance at making the playoffs, up 15 percent in just one week. And the Blackhawks can continue this torrid pace with games over two non-playoff teams upcoming this week: the Vancouver Canucks on Monday and the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
Patrick Kane’s scoring pace
The rate at which Kane was racking up points during Chicago’s 10-2 stretch in January and February was absurd. In those 12 games, Kane had 11 goals and 16 assists — more than two points per game. He’s cooled significantly of late, with just two goals and four assists in the last nine games. Two factors are likely involved here: Kane now being on a line with Dominik Kahun and Artem Anisimov, along with the mild regression of the Blackhawks power play. But there’s an encouraging development out of this trend: the depth scoring has carried the team. The aforementioned Perlini is on fire, Artem Anisimov scored twice against the Buffalo Sabres, Kahun has tallied in each of the last two games and defenseman Connor Murphy joined the scoring on Saturday night. As Kane has cooled, the rest of the team is picking up the slack. That wasn’t happening earlier this season.
Jonathan Toews’ penalties
Two minor penalties from the captain gave the Canadiens golden opportunities to get back in the game. Fortunately for the Hawks, Montreal has the league’s worst power play and the Blackhawks turned away both of those opportunities. But neither penalty can be classified as a “good one” and it’s a trend that should end immediately.
Dylan Sikura’s luck
Sikura hit the post again and then a failed 2-on-0 with Perlini kept Sikura searching for his first career NHL goal. One of these chances has to go in eventually, right?
Toews gives Sikura a hug after No. 95 hits the crossbar. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/kJhfxu7zxd— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) March 17, 2019
The Blackhawks return home to host the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.