Blackhawks' hard work pays off in 5-0 win at Montreal

The Blackhawks haven't had the start to the season that they would have liked: heading into Tuesday night, they were 6-5-1, their 13 points just good enough for 10th place in the West. This wasn't where Chicago was supposed to be, even among the powerhouse Central division.
 
Part of it was the team's skewed performance: despite averaging a league-best 37.9 SOG/game (not to mention all the blocked and missed shots), the pucks just weren't always going in, even when the Blackhawks were grossly outshooting their competition. Prior to tonight, 10 of the Blackhawks' twelve games were 1-goal affairs, with two determined in OT, and two in the shoot out. 
 
Statistics - a.k.a. "#fancystats" - said that eventually, something was going to give. 
 
And give it did, in a big way, on Tuesday night in Montréal. 
 
The Canadiens were 8-3-1 with 17 points, second in the Atlantic division, heading into Tuesday night's game. But they were also coming off a 6-2 loss to the surprising Flames. They've allowed the first goal in 11 of 13 of their games, and are frequently outscored in the first period. 
 
The Habs didn't play their best at home in the Bell Center, and the Blackhawks took full advantage. Carey Price made some outstanding saves, but he couldn't carry his team for a win.
 
Jonathan Toews opened the scoring with a power play goal 11:19 into the first. Kris Versteeg would make it 2-0 halfway through the second. 
 
But it was the third period where the floodgates really opened, starting with Brad Richard's goal 2:22 into the period. Patrick Kane nailed things shut with the fourth goal just over ten minutes later, and Kris Versteeg scored his second of the night to round things out to 5-0 with just over five minutes remaining in the game.
 
Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville has stressed to his team that it's important to get in front of the goal and look for greasy goals; this was the game where they proved him right. At one point, Carey Price got so frustrated by the Blackhawks' net-front presence that he knocked Jonathan Toews' helmet off.
 
If Blackhawks' fans have complained about the Blackhawks' power play - which is humming along at a solid 18.9% - then they should be glad they don't have Montréal's PP woes. The Habs have collected just 3 PPG in 37 opportunities (8.1%). 
 
Injury report
 
Patrick Sharp was hit by Montréal defenseman Alexei Emelin at 6:55 in the third. His teammates had to help him off the ice, favoring his right knee. It was announced that he has a "lower body injury" and will be out "a bit", which in "Q-speak" probably means a few weeks. 
 
This will likely mean a call-up from the Rockford IceHogs to fill Sharp's spot in the lineup, but who that will be has not yet been announced.
 
 
Three stars:
 
1) Jonathan Toews - CHI
2) Duncan Keith - CHI
3) Patrick Kane - CHI
 
 
Notes from the box:
 
- Corey Crawford's shutout improves his stats this season to 4-2-1, with 1.53 GAA (first among goalies with at least 5 games played) and .938 sv% (5th among goalies with at least 5 GP). 
 
- Per Elias Sports: Crawford's shutout was the first Blackhawks shutout in Montréal since October 27, 1999 (J. Thibault). It was also Crawford's first NHL win in his home city of Montreal (Chateauguay). 
 
- The Blackhawks currently lead the league with an average 37.9 shots/game (#2 is MN w/34.9); tied for 8th-best shots against (27.5).
 
- Jonathan Toews' 1G and 1A were his 200th goal and 250th assist, respectively, giving him 450 points thus far in his career. 
 
- For fans who worried about Kris Versteeg's performance after his return to the Blackhawks: after having the summer to completely heal, Versteeg is looking like the kind of player he should be at this point in his career. His shooting % leads the team at 18.20%, even though he's only collected 4 goals and a assist so far. He's third on the team for P/60 with 1.77 as well. Patrick Kane was quoted after the game as saying about Versteeg, "He's playing great; he might be one of our best players right now."
 
 
 
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