Andrei Markov’s second goal of the game in overtime gave the Canadiens a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night at the Bell Centre. The winning goal came at 1:28 of the overtime period which was played entirely in the Chicago end of the ice. Markov gave the Canadiens a 1-0 at 12:54 of the second period but the Hawks’ Marian Hossa tied the game midway through the third period, sending it to overtime. The Canadiens dominated the game territorially, outshooting the Hawks 38-20. The three stars were Markov, Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford and Carey Price.
Adding It Up –
No Passengers – Every member of the Canadiens was on board. They saved their best game of the season for the defending Stanley Cup champions and, with the weapons that the Blackhawks ice on a nightly basis, they needed it. One statistic stood out; the Canadiens were required to block only 17 shots in the game which was an indicator of how much of the game was played in the Chicago end of the ice.
The First Star – Andrei Markov scored both Canadiens goals including the overtime winner but the player who rose above even his own standards was Tomas Plekanec. You could refer to his eleven shots on goal. He was assigned to faceoff against one of the best in the league in Jonathan Toews and won ten of eighteen. Plekanec was minus-1 in the game, the best Canadiens minus-rating of the year
The Supporting Cast – -Plekanec’s linemates, charged with handling Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp, also had a big night. Particularly effective in a forechecking role was Travis Moen who had to take care of Hossa most of the night. It was Hossa who scored the only Chicago goal, but considering the body of work by the line, all is forgiven.
Back In Form – Alexei Emelin has had a rough three weeks mostly because his physical play, the key component in his game, was missing. It was back against the Hawks. Emelin set the tone of the game with for bruising hits in the first period and finished the game with six. Emelin also drew the first assist in Markov’s opening goal.
True Grit – It’s games like this one when you understand why they’re still moaning in New York about the Rangers letting Brandon Prust get away. Prust played most of the night on the fourth line with Bournival and Parros, but in fact put in time, effectively on all four lines and was part of the second penalty killing unit. It was his shot that set up Eller’s best chance of the game which would have made it 2-0.
The Last Line – Another Carey Price tour-de-force. His defense did an excellent job in front of him, limiting the shots to twenty. But ten of the nineteen saves he made in the game were big Chicago scoring chances as you might expect from a team with their firepower. It should be mentioned that Corey Crawford was named the game’s second start for good reason. He stopped 36 of 38 shots.
Got It Right – Early in the third period the Hawks had a goal waved off because Michal Handzus was in the crease interfering with Price. Price said after the game that he was prevented from getting across the crease to cover the shot coming in from the blueline.
Also Worth Mentioning – ……It’s not very often George Parros is on the ice for a goal, but he was the key to the first goal of the game, getting his big body in front of Corey Crawford and then letting Markov’s shot go through his legs on the screen. ……Would it be bad form to mention the continuing failure of the Canadiens power play. They were 0-for-3 and now 0-for-14 over the last four games. Even with a 1-0 lead, the Bell Centre faithful took to booing the effort on the third of the three advantages.
Moving On – Only one game in a sequence of inconsistent performances. They’ll try to build on this one against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night before they hit the road for games in Ottawa Thursday and Toronto next Saturday, the start of four games in a row away from home.