Fleury earns 500th career win in Hawks’ 2–0 shutout in Montreal

  

The Chicago Blackhawks traveled north of the border to face the slumping Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on Thursday night. Losers of four straight and six of their last seven, the 2021 Stanley Cup finalist Canadiens currently sit in last place in the Atlantic Division, tied with the Ottawa Senators for the second-fewest points in the NHL.

The Blackhawks started Marc-Andre Fleury in net, as he looked to get his 500th career win in his home province. The Canadiens started a familiar face in former St. Louis Blues netminder Jake Allen.

First period

The Blackhawks played a strong first on the road against a Canadiens team searching for a win. The Hawks controlled the play 5-on-5 and generated multiple quality scoring chances, including Alex DeBrincat getting stopped by Allen on a delayed penalty. After one, the Hawks outshot the Habs 13–12.

Second period

At 13:48 of the frame, Jonathan Toews finally ended his 25-game goal drought to start the season by scoring his first on the power play off a shot-pass from the point from Seth Jones to give Chicago a 1–0 lead. The Hawks continued to own a substantial advantage in the flow of play through 40 minutes against a Canadiens team which showed little pushback. The Hawks outshot Montreal 8–6 in the period and had a 21–18 edge after 40 minutes. While the shots on goal total was close, the quality of scoring chances heavily favored the Blackhawks.

Third period

The Canadiens showed some life in the third, but Fleury was there each time. At the 12:00 mark, Thursday’s first-line center, Henrik Borgstrom, who centered DeBrincat and Patrick Kane, intercepted a pass by Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov in the slot and spun around and wristed one past Allen for the unassisted tally to double the Chicago lead to 2–0.

In the closing seconds, Canadiens fans chanted “Fleu-ry” as he clinched shutout and became the third goalie in NHL history to reach the 500-win milestone. Additionally, “The Flower” became the fastest to reach that elusive mark, accomplishing it in just 901 career games, besting the previous low mark of 908 held by Martin Brodeur. The only other netminder to reach 500 victories is Patrick Roy, who needed 933 games to hit the milestone. Montreal outshot the Hawks 12–4 in the third and finished with a 30–25 edge in shots on goal over Chicago, but the Hawks won it 2–0.

The Good, the bad, the ugly

The good

Fleury: “The Flower” is showing no signs of slowing down, as he continues to play well, especially following the Blackhawks’ coaching change. If this continues, and the Hawks are out of the postseason race, it will be interesting to see what kind of trade interest Fleury generates from contenders.

Toews: Finally, he got the gorilla off his back by potting his first of the season. We will see if this sparks the team’s offensive output, which has been terrible this season.

The bad

Consistency: Or lack thereof. The Hawks have alternated wins and losses over their last 11 games. On Saturday, they will look to end that “streak” in Toronto.

The ugly

The Canadiens: Despite the front office shakeup, the team continues to slump as their losing streak is now at five. The team looked lifeless for the first 40 minutes of the game, then played a little more inspired in the third, but Fleury shut the door.

Analysis

It was a solid road win for the Hawks following an emotional loss against the New York Rangers at the United Center. The new and odd-looking lines, which also saw Reese Johnson moved up to the second line alongside Toews and Brandon Hagel, worked to a degree, so we will see if they stay together for the Hawks’ next game on Saturday night in Toronto. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. CST and will be broadcast nationally on NHL Network in the U.S. and on CBC in Canada along with the local broadcast on NBCSCH and on WGN 720.

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