Recap: Canadiens @ Blackhawks 12.22.23

CHICAGO -- Juraj Slafkovsky and Nick Suzuki each had a goal and an assist for the Montreal Canadiens, who scored five straight in a 5-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Friday.

David Savard scored an empty-net goal and had an assist, and Cayden Primeau made 19 saves for the Canadiens (15-13-5), who extended their point streak to five games (3-0-2), including a 4-3 overtime loss at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

“We weren’t happy with our start, for sure,” said Suzuki, the Montreal captain. “The first half of the game wasn’t great, but we know the style that we play and we can come back in games just with our relentlessness. We turned a lot of pucks over and got a lot of chances.

“It’s a big opportunity for us. I feel good going into the break. We wanted to show our best effort. I think that will really jump with us into the games after Christmas.”

MTL@CHI: Suzuki puts home a backhand for 4-2 lead

Ryan Donato and Jason Dickinson scored, and Connor Bedard had an assist for the Blackhawks (10-21-1). Petr Mrazek made 23 saves.

“I don’t think we played a smart game,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. “It was kind of 50/50 in the first period, and I don’t think we were great, but we had a nice goal and then I thought we started out the second period pretty good, skating. Then, we just weren’t playing smart; we were doubling up on forechecks and we were doubling up on backchecks, and that left people wide open. Just kind of unaware. It looked like we were the tired team, not them.”

Donato gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at 16:56 of the first period. Bedard passed from the left-wing boards to Donato, who scored on a wrist shot from the slot.

Dickinson made it 2-0 at 3:43 of the second period. Colin Blackwell, playing his second game of the season after being out while recovering from sports hernia surgery March 22, skated into the offensive zone and faked Montreal defenseman Justin Barron to the ice before dropping the puck to Dickinson, who scored on a wrist shot.

“Yeah, ‘Blackie’s’ brought a lot of intensity, emotion,” Dickinson said. “I think he was almost 300 days between games, so there’s a lot of built-up excitement, energy. He already brings energy to games, and on top of that much time out, he’s raring to go. He’s itching for it. It’s contagious. It’s easy to build off his energy.”

MTL@CHI: Dickinson, Blackwell team up for a nice goal in 2nd

The Canadiens cut it to 2-1 at 4:20 when Mitchell Stephens tipped in Mike Matheson’s slap shot from the right point. It was Stephens’ first goal since March 3, 2020.

Josh Anderson tied it 2-2 at 15:02 after taking a pass from Sean Monahan on the left wing for his fifth of the season.

Slafkovsky gave Montreal a 3-2 lead at 17:33 on a rebound of Suzuki’s shot from the left circle.

“Someone has to go there,” Slafkovsky said of being in position for rebounds. “I like it. [Thursday], right off the leg; today, at least it went off the stick. It’s getting closer. Maybe I’ll start scoring from a little further out too.”

MTL@CHI: Slafkovsky puts the Canadiens ahead 3-2 in the 2nd

Suzuki made it 4-2 at 13:11 of the third period, scoring on the rebound of a shot by Cole Caufield.

Savard scored an empty-net goal at 18:04 for the 5-2 final.

“We got back to playing our game, so to speak,” Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis said. “I always say, it’s not like one magic play that’s going to get us back and it’s going to win us the game. We’ve just got to do the positive actions on the ice based on how we want to play over and over and over again kind of stay patient, try not to beat yourself.

“I thought we got some big plays, some big goals at key times that gave us some life. And I thought we played an excellent third period.”

NOTES: It was Slafkovsky’s first game-winning goal since being the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. … Stephens played last season with Laval of the American Hockey League and did not have a goal in 27 games with the Detroit Red Wings during the 2021-22 season. He played seven games for the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020-21. … Savard was plus-3 in 21:36 of ice time. … The Blackhawks activated defenseman Jarred Tinordi from injured reserve (concussion protocol) and assigned defensemen Wyatt Kaiser and Filip Roos to Rockford of the AHL. Tinordi was minus-1 in 19:03 in his first game since Dec. 5.