Smith Scores Twice, Blackhawks Beat Canadiens 4-1

 nytimes.com  01/16/2020 04:23:34   The Associated Press

MONTREAL  Corey Crawford doesnt know why he plays well against his hometown team.

The veteran goalie stopped 32 shots to help the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Crawford, from suburban Chateauguay, Quebec, improved to 11-2-2 against the Canadiens.

I don't really have an answer why it's gone so well here," he said. "It's nice to do that in front of friends and family."

Crawford has struggled this season, with the latest win improving his record to 8-13-2 with a 3.00 goals-against average.

"My record is terrible right now, Im not really happy with it," he said. "It's (tough) being way below .500. I just have to work hard and battle my way back."

Zack Smith had two goals, and Alex DeBrincat and Drake Caggiula also scored for the Blackhawks, who were coming off a 3-2 overtime win against the Senators on Tuesday. Chicago won for the seventh time in 10 games.

I thought we deserved that win, Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. We played hard, we were on our toes, putting pressure on them. We had a lot of offensive-zone shifts. We did a decent job of closing out the game. ... Good step for us to win in relatively good control.

Phillip Danault scored for the Canadiens, who have lost 10 of their last 11. Charlie Lindgren, still looking for his first victory of the season, finished with 24 saves.

Lindgren started the first game of a back-to-back for Montreal. Carey Price gets the nod Thursday at Philadelphia.

The Blackhawks scored twice in a fast-paced first period before Montreal even managed its second shot on net.

Miscommunication between Lindgren and Tomas Tatar behind the net led to Smiths short-handed goal at 5:42. Lindgren hesitated with the puck and Tatar knocked into him, giving Caggiula the chance to feed Smith in front.

You never want to give up a goal like that, Lindgren said. Its a goal thats very preventable. I take full responsibility for that. I made a couple of fakes behind the net and nothing happened. I got the puck poked off my stick and they got an open net.

Chicagos fourth line struck again less than three minutes later. Defenseman Slater Koekkoek threw the puck into traffic and Smith, unmarked to Lindgrens right, deflected it into the top corner at 8:32.

Smith came in with two goals in 40 games all season. The former Senators forward doubled his tally after four shifts.

Lindgren kept Montreal in the game with a desperation save on rookie Dominik Kubalik late in the first to keep it 2-0.

Goals have been tough to come by for the Canadiens lately but they got one 54 seconds after the restart. A no-look pass from Ilya Kovalchuk into the slot fooled Jonathan Toews and Danault scored beneath Crawfords glove to make it 2-1.

The Canadiens have scored 16 goals in their last nine games.

Max Domi took a roughing penalty that proved costly in the second period. Chicago was leading 2-1 when he hit Matthew Highmore with his shoulder in open ice. Domi then grabbed Highmore by the collar and helmet and tackled him to the ice.

On the ensuing power play, after Lindgren lost his blocker in a goal-mouth scramble, DeBrincat scored on a one-timer from Patrick Kane to restore the Blackhawks two-goal lead with 8:33 left.

During the play, I certainly wasnt trying to take a penalty, Domi said. I watched the replay and its a penalty. Its how it goes. Its unfortunate they scored on that. Obviously you cant do that, especially given the situation were in. Cant afford to do that.

Canadiens coach Claude Julien benched Domi for the remainder of the second as punishment for the penalty.

I did what I had to do, its as simple as that, said Julien. When you take a foolish penalty like that, there are going to be consequences. Its not the first time hes taken a bad penalty.

Caggiula sealed the win with 8:20 remaining in the third after stripping Jordal Weal of the puck in the neutral zone and beating Lindgren glove side on the breakaway.

"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 said. "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.

NOTES: Montreals Brendan Gallagher (concussion) missed his third consecutive game. ... Toews extended his point streak to four games. ... Crawford has won his last six games at Bell Centre.

UP NEXT

Blackhawks: At Toronto on Saturday night.

Canadiens: At Philadelphia on Thursday night.

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