Third period dooms Blackhawks in 2-0 loss at home to Montreal
The first two periods were OK. The third? Not so much.
It felt like the type of game where the Blackhawks would get a late goal, add an empty-netter, then skate off with a 2-0 win.
But the opposite happened. A pair of third-period goals as part of a dominant final period by the Canadiens cost the Blackhawks a chance to run their win streak to three games, losing 2-0 to Montreal.
The Blackhawks outshot the Canadiens 28-18 in the first two periods, but had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
The Connor Murphy/Michal Kempny duo made a couple mistakes within a few seconds of each other, leading to a Jonathan Drouin goal for Montreal early in the third quarter. That goal by Drouin snapped a shutout steak of 173:09 for Hawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who continues to be the best netminder in the Wesern Conference (I’m going to keep saying this until everyone understands).
Murphy turned the puck over again (more on that later) and Joe Morrow took advantage with a rocket from the point that found its way through a maze of players and into the net behind Crawford. The Hawks mounted a furious rally in the final few minutes with Crawford pulled, but could not get anything past Montreal goalie Charlie Lindgren, who is now a perfect 4-0 in his four career starts, earning his first shutout with 38 saves against Chicago.
MTL GOALS: Drouin (3), Morrow (1)
CHI GOALS: :(
So Connor Murphy is getting scratched again, isn’t he?
One night after the Kempny/Murphy pairing was part of an excellent performance by the Blackhawks, that duo was on the ice for both of Montreal’s goals on Sunday night. The possession numbers were quite good actually, with Kempny at 72 CF% and Murphy at a team-high 76.19%. But Kempny got caught up-ice on a pinch and Murphy was too close to the boards to catch up to Drouin, resulting in the first goal. The second one was largely a gaffe by Murphy. All he had to do was work the puck behind the net to Duncan Keith and the Hawks probably would’ve been out of the zone with possession. But he hung on to the puck, ultimately turning it over, giving the Canadiens a 2-0 lead. With Gustav Forsling appearing ready to return from injury, I have a hunch who’s going to be moved to the press box.
Trust the process.
Chicago owned a 60-40 advantage in the puck possession metrics on Saturday night against Minnesota. For the first two periods tonight, its advantage was roughly same before a third period where everything seemed to go wrong. Possession is great, but scoring goals is even better. This team’s woes are far from cured, and they need to have a better stretch of play than just five good periods in two games. But if the Hawks can continue to possess the puck the way they have the last two nights, the goals are going to follow. This team has too much talent to have the puck that much and not start lighting the lamp.
The nuclear option?
We know from prior experience that Joel Quenneville has never been a huge fan of putting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the same line, because he feels it doesn’t do enough to spread out the forward talent of the Blackhawks. But with the way the Hawks have been struggling to score of late, I wonder if we’re going to see Toews and Kane skate with Brandon Saad on their left wing. I wouldn’t expect it to be a permanent move, but I could see Q using that line, at times, just to get some damn points on the board.
- Charlie Lindgren (MTL) — 38 saves, first career NHL shutout
- Jonathan Drouin (MTL) — 1 goal, 4 SOG
- Joe Morrow (MTL) — 1 goal, 1 assist