The Blackhawks continue to roll on the road. Zack Smith had two goals, Drake Caggiula a goal and an assist, Alex DeBrincat scored and Corey Crawford was stellar in goal as the Blackhawks defeated the Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
The Blackhawks won for the sixth time in their last seven games away from home and now sport a 11-9-3 road record. Overall, the Blackhawks have won three in a row and are 22-20-6 as they continue to claw their way up the Western Conference standings.
"I think we're playing the right way," Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane told reporters in Montreal. "It may not be pretty all the time but we're finding ways to stay in the game and control the game a little bit better. It's been good for us."
Crawford made 32 saves to help the Blackhawks improve to 2-0 on their current three-game road trip and 8-1 in the second of back-to-back games.
"We've been playing really well defensively the last bunch of games and (Wednesday night) was no different," Crawford told reporters. "We kept them to the outside most of the game. It was another big win on the road and we have to carry that momentum into Toronto (on Saturday night)."
Former Blackhawks center Phillip Danault scored for the Canadiens, who dropped to 20-21-7.
Here are three takeaways from the Blackhawks' victory:
While the Blackhawks have been getting huge contributions from top-liners Kane, Jonathan Toews and Dominik Kubalik of late, they got much-needed secondary scoring from Smith and Caggiula against the Canadiens.
Smith's two first-period goals doubled his season output. The veteran opened the scoring by taking a pass from Caggiula from behind the net and buried it past Canadiens goaltender Charlie Lindgren to give the Blackhawks their fifth shorthanded goal of the season. Later in the period, Smith redirected a shot from Slater Koekkoek into the net for his fourth goal of the season.
"Every point is so crucial and you have to find ways to win and you can't necessarily just rely on one or two guys," Caggiula told reporters. "Obviously, there are guys (that) that's their job but everyone has to find ways to contribute. The more depth that we can have and the more ways we can contribute from different players and contribute in different ways is going to go a long way for our team. I was glad to see that everyone was contributing (Wednesday night)."
Added Kane: "We had some guys step up (Wednesday night) … with a couple of big goals. 'Smitty' and Caggiula were really good for us (against the Canadiens) and I think that's a key ingredient to a lot of winning teams."
Crawford, who is from the Montreal suburb of Chateauguay, Quebec, continued his dominance in his hometown, improving to 6-0-2 with a 1.12 games-against average and .971 save percentage at the Bell Centre in his career. Against the Canadiens overall, Crawford is now 10-2-2 with a 1.50 goals-against and .956 save percentage.
Crawford told reporters "it's hard to say" why he plays so well against the Canadiens.
"I don't really have an answer why it's gone so well here," Crawford said. "It's nice to do that in front of friends and family."
The veteran goaltender improved to 8-13-2 on the season, a record with which Crawford isn't too pleased.
"My record is terrible right now," Crawford said. "I'm not really happy with it. It's (tough) being way below .500. I just have to work hard and battle my way back."
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said he understands Crawford's disappointment with his individual numbers.
"(Crawford) is a guy who wants to be the man, he wants to be the one to carry the load and help us win," Colliton said. "He's done it in the past and had a lot of success so I think he'd be only human to want more."
Crawford said his poor record isn't as big a motivating factor as is the Blackhawks' spot in the standings.
"You just have to keep playing," Crawford said. "We're not anywhere near out of it. We have to find a way to work our way up."
KANE CLOSING IN
Kane picked up his 998th career NHL point with his assist on DeBrincat's power-play goal midway through the second period that gave the Blackhawks a 3-1 lead. Kane's next opportunity to become the 90th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points will be against the Maple Leafs.
Following Wednesday night's game, Kane was asked his thoughts on reaching the milestone.
"I'll probably have a better feeling when I get there," Kane told reporters. "I'm just trying to enjoy it right now and try to keep producing every night and try to help the team win. I'll probably have more of an idea what it means when hopefully I reach that goal."
Kane's Blackhawks teammates are also eager to see the winger hit 1,000.
"That's an impressive number," Caggiula told reporters. "He's a heck of a player and it's just a matter of time before he gets there. I don't think he's going to be stopping there, either. He's going to be putting up a lot of numbers for a lot longer in this league."