MONTREAL (AP) - Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford likes facing the Canadiens in Montreal.
Crawford made 40 saves and the Blackhawks defeated the Canadiens 4-2 on Tuesday night to take the lead atop the Western Conference standings.
“Playing here in front of family and friends is always special,” said Crawford, who has never lost to the Habs in regulation time (7-0-2).
“I just enjoy it. It’s always good.”
Crawford withstood a flurry of shots at the end of the first period to preserve Chicago’s lead after Patrick Kane made it 1-0.
Kane finished with a goal and two assists and is tied with Edmonton star Connor McDavid with 76 points for tops in the NHL.
In the second period, Crawford took Shea Weber’s slap shot off his mask from just a few feet out. The Blackhawks goalie was stunned but stayed in the game.
“I didn’t have any time to get out of the way,” said Crawford, who was coming off a season-best 42-save effort against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. “Hard shot. I tried to take the angle away. He smoked me there.”
Crawford was going for a shutout but was beaten twice in the third period. Paul Byron slapped a bouncing puck over his shoulder at 12:42 before Weber scored on a slap shot from the point at 16:32.
“It got a little tight there at the end, but big two points for us against a big team,” said Crawford, who faced 18 shots in the third. “We were pretty good all game. We had a lot of chances.
“It’s a great win, especially in this building.”
Carey Price, who made 20 saves, became the third Montreal goaltender to reach the 500-game milestone.
Only Patrick Roy (551) and Jacques Plante (556) have played more games between the pipes for Montreal.
But playing Chicago isn’t easy for the Canadiens, who haven’t beaten the Blackhawks since 2014 (0-6-1).
Crawford has never conceded more than two goals in a game against Montreal - his highest save percentage against any opponent.
“Getting that first goal is just taking us too long,” said Byron, who has 19 goals on the season. “We can’t wait until the end of the third period to get going. We’re all trying hard and doing the right thing. We just have to focus on getting one earlier.”
After Kane’s opener in the first, Chicago got goals from Johnny Oduya, Artemi Panarin and Jonathan Toews, into the empty net.
Montreal’s Alexei Emelin was at fault on the Blackhawks’ first three goals.
Kane scored in the first period after Emelin couldn’t control the puck at center ice.
In the second period, the Canadiens defenseman collided with his teammate just moments before Oduya made it 2-0.
Emelin was again to blame for Chicago’s third goal when he inexplicably changed sides mid-rush, leaving Panarin all alone in front of the goal.
With time on his side, Panarin roofed the puck on Price 47 seconds into the third period. Emelin finished the game with a minus-3 rating.
“The mistakes that we made, they capitalized on,” said Jeff Petry, who was on a defensive pairing with Emelin.
“We have to communicate, to know who’s going for the puck and who’s picking the net-front guy. The communication wasn’t there tonight.
“I’m definitely not happy with the outcome of the game.”
Chicago’s Artem Anisimov left the game in the first period with a left leg injury after Alexander Radulov fell on him. He did not return.
NOTES: Defenseman Brandon Davidson, acquired at the trade deadline, got his second start with Montreal, replacing Nathan Beaulieu on the blue line. . The Clarkson Cup-winning Canadiennes de Montreal (CWHL) were honored in a pregame ceremony.
Blackhawks: Travel to Ottawa and face the Senators on Thursday night.
Canadiens: Travel to Ottawa and face the Senators on Saturday night.
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