COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Anyway you measure it, it was a radical move.
Assigning Chicago Blackhawks' defenseman Steve Montador to play the slot on the power play seemed a desperate act for Joel Quenneville -- but an understandable one. The team's power play was ranked last in the league coming into the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
It paid off big time as Montador scored, assisted and fought his way to a Gordie Howe hat trick -- achieved when a players gets all three in one game. The two points came on the power play.
“I wanted to have success, I didn’t picture this exactly,” a smiling Montador said after the Hawks 6-3 win. “It’s definitely exciting to be a part of contributing to the success. Sometimes you get on the score sheet, sometimes you don’t. Tonight I did and was happy about it.”
Montador had a slow start to his Hawks’ career. His training camp was underwhelming, but he slowly got better as the season started. Still, as an $11 million, four year acquisition, more was expected. Thursday, he delivered. And his teammates couldn’t have been more happy for him.
“Especially Monty,” Duncan Keith said. “He’s a great guy to have and great in the locker room. It was nice to see him put that one away. It’s a cross body one-timer. It’s not an easy shot to make and he made a real nice shot.”
Montador “popped” out of the slot during one power play and received a pass from Keith in the corner before putting it away, top shelf.
“You do that defensively sometimes because you have to be an outlet for somebody so you just find a hole,” Montador said of moving to find space. “It’s not an easy play for a defenseman to pass it back out to the slot, not knowing if anyone would be going to be back there [to cover on defense]. It was right where it needed to be for me to get that shot off. It was a good pass.”
It was a good pass and a better shot. The goal came after Montador kept an earlier power play alive to get an assist on an Andrew Brunette score, which was preceded by a fight with Derek Dorsett. He came to the defense of Marcus Kruger on the sequence. Dorsett took a run at Kruger.
“It was right in front of me, so yeah, wasn’t too happy with that,” Montador said.
It’s the first Gordie Howe hat trick recorded by a Hawk since Brent Seabrook did it in March of 2009. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, to help stop a losing streak.
“He’s been doing a lot of good things for us since he’s come to this locker room,” Toews said. “Good for him and for us.”
And good for the power play. Joel Quenneville said assistant Mike Kitchen thought it would be a good idea to have a right hander in the slot knowing Montador had played some there when he and Kitchen were in Florida.
The Hawks won, the power play produced and Montador was the star.
“It was nice,” he simply stated.
• The Hawks scored two power play goals in a game for the first time this season.
• Dan Carcillo was sporting several stitches to his lip and face after getting hit by a puck behind the net. He returned to finish the game.
• Toews’ second goal of the first period looked very similar to the one Patrick Kane scored in overtime of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals in 2010, along the left wing and through the goalie.
“Yeah, I don’t think Kaner would admit he was shooting for a rebound there,” Toews joked. “I think it just fooled him. It was a tricky shot and I knew someone might be going to the net there and it happened to sneak through. I don’t think you’ll get that same statement out of him.”