Hawks get ugly 3-2 win versus Montreal, first OT victory - New York News

Hawks get ugly 3-2 win versus Montreal, first OT victory

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

It took 80 games but the Blackhawks finally scored a goal in overtime and defeated Montreal 3-2 on Wednesday night. Simply put this was an ugly victory and for the majority of the game the Hawks were not the better team.

In crunch time Michal Handzus fed Patrick Sharp who connected with Marian Hossa to tie the game. Hossa's 29th goal came with only 48 seconds remaining in the third period. Then in OT, Sharp let what appeared to be a harmless, fluttering wrist shot go from top of the slot. Goaltender Peter Budaj failed to make the save and then inadvertently helped the puck into the net for the game winner.

Before Hossa's marker and the winning goal, Jeremy Morin scored his fourth of the season near the midpoint of the third frame. Morin was one of the few noticeable Blackhawks and his tally evened the game at one.

The best Hawk throughout the night was Corey Crawford as he kept his team in the contest.

The Canadiens had a 23-17 advantage in shots through 40 minutes and had a good edge in scoring chances as well. Crawford was busy as the Hawks managed only six shots on goal in the middle stanza.

Crawford was only beaten on a deflection and a screen shot. He stymied the Canadiens more than once and made his biggest stop with 20 seconds left in the third frame. Crawford sprung from left to right and stopped Montreal's biggest scoring threat Max Pacioretty. The Montreal winger couldn't solve Crawford but was credited with six shots on goal which led all players.

The third period was the only time in the game when the Hawks passing was adequate. Due to poor passing they could not play at a quick pace. For the majority of the night the Canadiens appeared the quicker team. The Hossa goal was one of the few times the Hawks connected on a couple of passes to generate a good scoring chance.

The Blackhawks have two games remaining, Colorado and St. Louis will play three more times. If the Avalanche capture two points in their remaining games the Hawks can't finish ahead of them.

The Av's trail the Blues by two points but tie breakers are in their favor as they are with Chicago. St. Louis is sliding and it wouldn't be a shock if Colorado caught them. If so the Hawks and Blues would square off in the opening round of the playoffs. Colorado doesn't have an easy schedule but all they need to do is finish with the same amount of points as St.Louis to win the Central Division.

The Blackhawks deserve credit for staying determined in the third period and finding a way to get by Montreal. They now have won four games in a row without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Kane skated with the team for the first time on Wednesday and Toews should be back practicing soon. Both are expected to be fully recovered when the playoffs begin next week.

It's a long season and there were times the Hawks got caught not being prepared and were defeated by lesser opponents. Two recent games standout as being a big reason why home ice for Round 1 is most likely not possible. Loses in late March to Nashville at the United Center and Ottawa on the road were very costly.

The Blackhawks will travel to Washington to take on the Capitals who are hanging on by a thread for a playoff spot. After playing Alex Ovechkin and company on Friday the regular season finale will take place in Nashville on Saturday night.

I will be back on Saturday morning and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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