Corey Crawford made 20 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks remained red-hot at home with a 5-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
Crawford wasn't busy but stayed sharp, earning the win in his first action since getting pulled from a Dec. 5 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Montreal native has allowed just three goals in two career starts against the Canadiens, who have dropped four straight games and fell to 0-3 under new coach Randy Cunneyworth.
The victory improved the Blackhawks to 12-2-3 at home, the third-best mark in the NHL.
Following a scoreless first period short on scoring chances, Crawford made his best save 5:35 into the second, corralling a point-blank shot from Max Pacioretty with the Canadiens enjoying a power play. Moments later, Montreal opened the scoring on an Andrei Kostitsyn redirection of a Tomas Plekanec shot that beat Crawford over his left shoulder.
Chicago drew even at 11:36, as Andrew Brunette's backhand pass attempt deflected past Montreal goaltender Peter Budaj. Patrick Sharp put the Blackhawks ahead 21 seconds later, fluttering a shot off the stick of a Canadiens defender that eluded Budaj.
The Blackhawks put the game out of reach just past the midway point of the third period. Brian Bickell fired the initial shot high and wide of the net but pursued the puck and centered it to Viktor Stalberg, who wired a shot low past Budaj.
Captain Jonathan Toews added his 20th goal of the season into an empty net with 1:17 remaining. Bickell concluded the scoring by converting on a 2-on-1 break in the final moments.