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Tale of two cities

Habs drop 3-2 decision in Chicago to split back-to-back weekend

by Stefan Nechay @canadiensmtl /

CHICAGO -- Two Habs streaks lived on over the weekend.

After shutting out the Detroit Red Wings to remain a perfect 10-0-0 at home for the first time in team history on Saturday, the Canadiens dropped a 3-2 decision against the Blackhawks on Sunday to stay winless in the Windy City since 2002.

And as impressive as the former was, the latter also wasn't for a lack of trying.

"I think we came out and gave it everything we had. The guys may have been a little tired, but we can't make excuses," underlined former Blackhawk Andrew Shaw, who made his United Center return coming off a three-point effort against Detroit the night prior. "We knew we were coming to play a good team"

Honored with a standing ovation during a first-period TV timeout, Shaw nearly scored the equalizer late in the third.

"I saw the back of the net, but [Corey Crawford] made a great save on that one," continued the 25-year-old, whose evening of ups and downs was a fitting microcosm for the Habs' back-to-back weekend. "Obviously my emotions were out of whack at that point, but it was great to see the fans' support here, and their appreciation for what I accomplished here."

Likewise, the adopted Chicagoan appreciated the work the Canadiens got in goal from the city's native son, even if they couldn't pick up the two points on the road.

"[Al Montoya] played great for us," acknowledged the gritty winger. "We gave them way too many opportunities, but he stood on his head and gave us a chance to win."

Indeed, making his first start since a 10-0 loss in Columbus on November 4, Montoya was solid between the pipes, stopping 32 of 35 Blackhawks shots.

But unfortunately on this night, the bounces went the other way.

"I just stick with what works for me -- nothing's changed," explained the 31-year-old American. "I just went back to work and wanted to battle. I wanted to give the team a chance today, and felt I did so, maybe taking away a goal here or there."

After giving up the second-period lead, Montoya did well to keep it close in the third, making 13 saves.

"With a back-to-back game like this on the road, at that point you just have fun and play," admitted the 6-foot-2, 209-pounder. "I let my body relax a little bit and enjoyed the ride. Come at me or not, I was ready for it."

The heroics fell just short however, even with Montoya himself adding to the offense for a second time this season, assisting on Shea Weber's seventh of the campaign before the team fell flat.

"We were going back and forth in the first period, and then in the second we took over. Once we got that lead we kind of sat back a little bit and gave them some space," admitted the veteran goaltender. "We were in it until then, so it could have gone either way.

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