CHICAGO – Patrick Sharp ended a long goal drought – and finished off the Montreal Canadiens, too.
Sharp, who had just one assist in his previous six games, scored with 4:10 left to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 victory over Montreal on Friday night. Set up by Patrick Kane’s centring pass, Sharp ripped a shot from between the circles past Carey Price to hand the Canadiens their fifth straight road loss.
“Sharpie scored our biggest goal of the year,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s 2-2 late in the game. We needed two points and we had a whole week to think about today’s game.”
Chicago led 2-0 midway through the second period on goals by Kris Versteeg and Cam Barker, who each added an assist. Barker’s power-play goal was only the Blackhawks’ second in their last six games.
But Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri and Travis Moen scored 4:02 apart late in second period to tie it.
The Blackhawks, who don’t play again until Thursday night in Phoenix, didn’t want to consider blowing the victory along with the lead.
“We just wanted to keep moving forward,” Sharp said. “Without trying to sound cocky or arrogant, we knew we were going to win.”
Kane, who had two assists, was the most dominant puck handler on the ice all night. He decided let Sharp finish on the winner.
“Actually I was trying to beat my winger,” Kane said, “but Sharpie always finds a way to get open.”
Cristobal Huet stopped 20 shots in his fourth straight start and beat the Canadiens, one of his former teams, for first time in three games.
Huet played on back-to-back nights for the first time this season. He made 26 saves in a 2-0 loss at Nashville on Thursday night, and has been sharp in his last four starts.
Price made 33 saves and held the Canadiens in the game in his first start since Oct. 17, a 3-1 loss to Ottawa. Jaroslav Halak had made five straight starts since then, winning the first four before a 6-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
“We started doing some things right and it paid off for a short period of time, but not the whole game” Cammalleri said. “With as many good saves as he (Price) had, we should have won.
“But I thought we were too easy to play against and I don’t think we made it difficult enough on them to make them do what they wanted.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews missed his fourth straight game because of concussion-like symptoms.
Toews hasn’t resumed skating after absorbing a crushing open-ice hit from Vancouver’s Willie Mitchell in the third period of a 3-2 loss to the Canucks on Oct. 21. The Chicago star is listed as day-to-day.
Versteeg scored the only goal in the up-tempo first period, with 6:14 remaining. His centring pass from behind the net hit the right skate of Montreal defenceman Marc-Andre Bergeron and deflected past Price.
Chicago’s Andrew Ladd knocked Montreal’s Matt D’Agostini out of the game with an open-ice hit at the Canadiens’ blue-line 3:48 into the first. It appeared Ladd slammed D’Agostini in the chin with his shoulder, but referees Stephane Auger and Dan O’Halloran assessed Ladd with an elbowing major and a game misconduct.
Huet made several close-in saves to hold off an extended Montreal flurry midway through the second. Quenneville called a timeout at 9:32 in an attempt to regroup his team.
The move helped.
Montreal’s Hal Gill went off for hooking at 9:46. Nine second later, Barker’s screened power-play goal from the left circle made it 2-0.
Goals by Cammalleri and Moen late in the second tied it at two.
Cammalleri cut it to 2-1 with 4:05 left in the period. He beat Huet from the low edge of the right circle after Jaroslav Spacek’s shot from the blue-line deflected off Chicago’s Brian Campbell in front of the net.
Moen took advantage of one of Huet’s few lapses to tie with 2.1 seconds left in the period. His wrap-around attempt from right side of the net squeezed in between Huet’s left skate and the post.
Huet made a point-blank stop on Guillaume Latendresse midway through the third to maintain the tie.
NOTES: The Canadiens visited the United Center for the first time since Oct. 18, 2006, when they lost 2-1. Friday night’s game was the only this season between the two “Original Six” rivals. Montreal beat Chicago 4-1 last March in the only 2008-09 game between the teams. … Chicago LW Ben Eager missed his 11th game because of a concussion, but skated earlier in the day for the first time since sustaining the injury. “He skated well,” Quenneville said. “It was encouraging today.” Quenneville said Toews and Eager will make the trip with the team to Phoenix, followed by a game in Colorado.