Canadiens Fall to Blackhawks
The Montreal Canadiens were in Chicago tonight, looking to break their three-game losing streak against the Blackhawks, but were unsuccessful in doing so, losing 5-1. Not only have the Canadiens lost a fourth straight game, but Interim Head Coach Randy Cunneyworth is still without his first career win, going 0-3 since the firing of Jacques Martin.
The game opened up with a relatively quiet first. Despite some good chances for both teams early on, the period would end scoreless. It was a good, back-and-forth twenty minutes of hockey with both teams registering seven shots on goal. There wasn't much in the way of action, as the only notable statistic on the score-sheet was a hooking penalty to Viktor Stalberg.
The second period was a different story. The Habs came on strong at the start, killing of a penalty to Tomas Plekanec taken just two minutes into the period. Just a few minutes later Michael Frolik would take a penalty for goaltender interference, and Andrei Kostitsyn capitalized by tipping-in a shot taken by Tomas Plekanec, giving the Canadiens a 1-0 lead. The Blackhawks would answer at the midway point of the period, as Andrew Brunette got one past Budaj to even the score. A mere 21 seconds later the Blackhawks would get their first lead of the game thanks to a goal from Patrick Sharp.
The third was more of the same. The Blackhawks showed that they are the superior team, and despite the Habs getting a few nice looks, the Blackhawks really dominated. Not only did they outshoot the Canadiens 9-3 in the final twenty minutes, they would put up three goals. It started ten minutes in as Viktor Stalberg padded the lead by putting up his seventh of the season. The Habs decided to go all-in and pulled Budaj for an extra attacker, but the Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews made them pay by scoring on the empty net. Think that was all? Not quite. Bryan Bickell added insult to injury by adding another marker with just twelve seconds left in the game to secure the Hawks already guaranteed win, and put the Habs into an even deeper hole.
Despite former head coach Jacques Martin being fired, the results haven't been very different so far for the Habs. While it's unrealistic to think Randy Cunneyworth would come in and be a saviour, losing his first three games as head coach is far from an impressive start. It does make it hard to be optimistic about the rest of the season, especially when the Habs get thrashed like this.
There is still a lot more hockey to be played however, and the Habs are just two games into a six game road streak to end 2011. If the crowd was getting to the Habs tonight, it won't get any easier tomorrow as the Habs visit a rocking MTS Centre in Winnipeg as they look to crack the losing streak against the Jets.