MONTREAL — Corey Crawford stopped all 48 shots he faced as the surging Chicago Blackhawks blanked the struggling Montreal Canadiens 2-0 on Saturday night.
Connor Murphy and Brendan Perlini scored for the Blackhawks (32-30-9), who have won five in a row.
The Montreal-born Crawford earned his second shutout of the season and improved to 9-2-2 all-time versus the Canadiens. The 48-save performance was Crawford’s career high in the regular season.
Carey Price stopped 22-of-24 shots for the Canadiens (37-28-7), who have dropped four of their past five games to fall out of a playoff spot. Price has played in 18 of the last 19 games for Montreal.
The Canadiens outshot the Blackhawks 48-24.
With the loss, Montreal’s playoff chances are dwindling in the Eastern Conference. The Canadiens are three points out of the second wild-card spot with 10 games remaining in the season — five of those are on the road.
Saturday’s contest was a battle of goaltenders, with Crawford getting the better of his counterpart Price.
Crawford needed to be on his game all night. Midway through the second period, the Blackhawks goalie made back-to-back saves on Paul Byron and Andrew Shaw. Two minutes later, the Montreal native robbed Artturi Lehkonen in close with the glove.
With nine minutes left in the game, Crawford stopped Joel Armia from point-blank range to preserve Chicago’s two-goal lead.
Byron came closest to beating the Hawks netminder when his second-period shot rang off the crossbar.
Crawford has never lost in regulation time in his hometown (5-0-2). He’s won his last five games at the Bell Centre.
Murphy scored the game’s first goal 3:04 into the second period. The defenceman took a pass from Dylan Strome in his skates, kicked the puck onto his stick, and beat Price from the slot high glove-side.
Perlini made it 2-0 at 4:49 of the third period on a nice give-and-go with teammate Alex DeBrincat.
The game featured Montreal’s league-worst power play against Chicago’s NHL-worst penalty kill. The Hawks came out on top, with the Canadiens going 0-for-4 with the man advantage.
NOTES: The Canadiens celebrated Price’s franchise record-setting 315th career victory in a pre-game ceremony. … Montreal was coming off a tough 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press