In another chapter of The LOCAL GUY doing well…Corey Crawford did what has now become an annual tradition – win in Montreal. Crawford’s performance tonight stands up with the rest of his terrific outings in the Great Bell Western Montreal Forum or whatever they’re calling it these days. In the first period, Crawford made several big saves to keep the Canadiens scoreless while the Hawks waited for Jeff Petry and Alexei Emelin to puke all over themselves.
They didn’t disappoint.
It’s happened so many times this year that I’ve lost count by now, but Jeff Petry gets absolutely abused whenever he’s matched against top competition. Sure enough, tonight he and his partner Emelin combined for a -6 while playing a key part in allowing Kane and the Russian spies and Schmaltz to score three times.
On the Hawks first goal, Petry backed off Kane so far that Kane probably could’ve skated the puck in another four feet before shooting. And this was while Kane was a mere 25 feet away from Carey Price.
On the Hawks second goal, Petry screened Price while Johnny Oduya wound up from 60 feet away. Then he ducked out of the way at the last second to leave Price scrambling to save a shot whistling past his face.
On the Hawks third goal, Petry and Emelin both moved towards Schmaltz as he held the puck in the ultra-dangerous area along the boards with his back turned. Schmaltz, to his credit, made a fabulous no-look pass to a streaking Artemi Panarin and the Hawks had a 3-0 lead.
Other things that may or may not involve Petry and Emelin setting Montreal on fire…
–Artem Anisimov’s high-ankle, lower body injury certainly didn’t look good at the end of the first period. His reaction didn’t make things much better. Anisimov laid on the ice and the mics could pick up his screams of agony.
Post-game, Joel Quenneville said he’s day-to-day and wasn’t considered serious. Of course, this is great news as we saw first-hand tonight how much stronger and deeper the Hawks are with Anisimov. Schmaltz has no problem filling the second line center need but then it leaves the Hawks slightly less better on the top line.
Tonight, they moved Hossa to the top line, Schmaltz to the second line and then used Kane or Panarin with Kruger and Tootoo. I’d imagine with John Hayden on the trip and expected to play in Ottawa anyways, things won’t look that much differently in a couple days.
The important thing is that Anisimov isn’t out for an extended period.
–That third period was so hockey, it may as well have smelled like rubber floors and B.O.. The Canadiens basically had zero push after Panarin gave the Hawks a 3 goal lead and looked no different than when Michel Therrien was being ignored while yelling things at people in French.
The Hawks had no problem just running out the clock and chipping pucks into the Canadiens zone.
Then, Montreal scores a nothing goal on a crazy bounce with 7 minutes left to cut the lead to two. A few minutes pass with the Hawks continuing to keep the clock moving while the Canadiens don’t make much of any push.
With less than four minutes left, the Hawks make a couple bad passes in their own end allowing the Canadiens to set up a forecheck. The puck gets swung around to Shea Weber and he unleashed a howler that made its way past Crawford after Richard Panik took the wrong angle.
Just like that, it was a one goal game in a period where the Canadiens looked like they could barely be bothered if Byron wasn’t on the ice.
In the end, it amounted to nothing for Montreal as the Hawks potted an empty-netter. So hockey.
–With the Wild losing in regulation to the Capitals, the Hawks have moved back in first with a game at hand. The Hawks continue their trip through the Canadian provinces as they face Ottawa on Thursday. Even when the Senators were winning 11 games a year, it seemed like the Hawks could never win there. The Wild will be playing in Carolina at the same time so we get to do this all again in a couple days.