Sluggish Hawks lose to Canadiens in overtime
BY MARK LAZERUS Staff Reporter January 11, 2014 8:46PM
Hawks goalie Corey Crawford makes an acrobatic skate save against the Canadiens’ Lars Eller in the second period Saturday. He finished with 36 saves. | Getty Images
Blackhawks 1 (OT)
BLACKHAWKS 0 0 1 0 — 1
Montreal 0 1 0 1 — 2
First Period—None. Penalties—Kostka, HAWKS (tripping), 9:18; Hjalmarsson, HAWKS (tripping), 11:16; Versteeg, HAWKS major (fighting), 16:19; Gallagher, Mon, major (fighting), 16:19.
Second Period—1, Montreal, Markov 4 (Emelin, Bournival), 12:54. Penalties—Handzus, HAWKS (tripping), 5:56; Subban, Mon (delay of game), 17:17.
Third Period—2, HAWKS, Hossa 16 (Toews, Sharp), 9:22. Penalties—None.
Overtime—3, Montreal, Markov 5 (Pacioretty), 1:28. Penalties—None.
Shots on Goal—HAWKS 7-8-5-0—20. Montreal 10-12-12-4—38.
Power-play opportunities—HAWKS 0 of 1; Montreal 0 of 3.
Goalies—HAWKS, Crawford 17-7-6 (38 shots-36 saves). Montreal, Price 21-11-4 (20-19).
Referees—Wes McCauley, Justin St. Pierre. Linesmen—Michel Cormier, Brad Kovachik. A—21,273 (21,273). T—2:26.
Updated: February 13, 2014 7:04AM
MONTREAL — His stick hopelessly far away, stranded in the corner of the rink, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford stood in the crease and braced for an onrushing — and short-handed — Brandon Prust late in the second period Saturday in Montreal.
But Prust flubbed the breakaway, which left Crawford off-balance and merely able to shove the puck a bit with his blocker before falling on his left side, half his body out of the crease.
In came Lars Eller to clean up the mess, and he was staring into a wide-open net — until he saw Crawford kick out his left foot. His skate got just enough of the puck to send it away at a 90-degree angle, to the gasps of the 21,273 fans at Bell Centre.
‘‘I don’t know if I want to be doing that every time,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘I just kicked my leg out, and luckily [the puck] hit it.’’
It was a preposterous save, certainly one of the best of Crawford’s career. And it came in his hometown. Against the team he grew up idolizing. Directly beneath the banner honoring his boyhood hero, Patrick Roy.
And it still wasn’t enough.
Crawford got the Hawks a point with a stellar 36-save performance, but he couldn’t single-handedly give them a victory in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Canadiens, the Hawks’ third defeat in a row. Andrei Markov scored his second goal of the game at 1:28 of overtime for the Canadiens.
‘‘He was unbelievable,’’ Hawks winger Marian Hossa said of Crawford. ‘‘He made so many key saves for us. It’s just too bad we couldn’t win it for him at the end.’’
It was the fifth time in their last six games that the Hawks — the highest-scoring team in the league — scored two goals or fewer, and they fell to 1-1-3 in 2014. They failed to score in the first period for the fifth consecutive game and were doomed by a dozen giveaways.
Credit the Canadiens and Carey Price (19 saves) for clamping down on the Hawks, but only to an extent, captain Jonathan Toews said.
‘‘I don’t know if it’s so much about the teams we’re playing against lately as much as it is our own game we have to pick up,’’ he said.
Halfway through the second period, the Hawks had a mere eight shots on goal, then found themselves trailing 1-0 on Markov’s first goal. They did manage to kill three early penalties, including overlapping ones in the first — they’ve allowed only four power-play goals in their last 12 games, a definite bright spot — but gained little momentum from that.
Instead, they left it to Crawford to bail them out. And, for the most part, he did. He was by far the Hawks’ best player in the first period, then made his spectacular stickless stop in the second, robbed Prust again with a glove save early in the third and stopped Tomas Plekanec on a breakaway in overtime before Markov finally clinched it.
The Hawks finally found an offensive spark in the third. First they had a goal waved off because Michal Handzus interfered with Price in the crease, then Toews delivered a perfect centering pass to Hossa, who chipped the puck past Price to tie the score at 1.
Just as it has been through four of the other five games in this mini-slump, it was good to get at least a point. But that’s not the point.
‘‘I guess it’s better than nothing,’’ Crawford said. ‘‘But we expect to win. It’s frustrating when we don’t. So we’re not going to be satisfied with an OT loss. We want to win.’’