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Saturday, January 11, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Canadiens 2, Hawks 1 (OT)

By Ryan Dittrick, Special to ESPNChicago.com


MONTREAL -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

How it happened: Simply put, the Canadiens were the better team for much of the night, outshooting the Blackhawks 38-20 through regulation and overtime.

For the longest time, it looked like Andrei Markov’s goal at 12:54 of the second period would stand as the game winner, but the Hawks pushed back and brought the score back on even terms midway through the third. Marian Hossa was credited with the equalizer as he swatted Jonathan Toews’ feed past Carey Price, setting the stage for thrilling third and overtime periods. At 1:28 of the extra frame, Markov raised his second of the night past Corey Crawford’s glove to secure a 2-1 win, handing the Blackhawks their third straight defeat.

What it means: With the overtime loss, the Blackhawks (29-8-10) picked up a point and have now taken an outright lead -- the ugly way -- in the Central Division race with 68 points. The second-place St. Louis Blues (31-8-5) have 67 points and three games at hand.

Player of the game: Playing in just his second game at the Bell Centre, Montreal native Crawford was absolutely sensational. The 29-year-old made 36 saves on the night, the best of which came late in the second period when he robbed Brandon Prust and Lars Eller on a pair of glorious short-handed chances. Without a stick or a prayer after making the initial stop on Prust, Crawford, sprawled on his side, kicked out his right leg and denied Eller’s rebound try in Bill Ranford-like fashion.

Stat of the game: Puck management was an issue for much of the night, but for most of the opening 20 minutes, possessing it at all was a significant challenge in itself. After one period of play, the Blackhawks had won only 5 of 16 draws (31 percent) and had committed six turnovers. It got better as the game went on, however, and the Hawks finished the night with a 45 percent efficiency rate in the faceoff circle.

What’s next: The Blackhawks are back in action on Sunday night at 6 p.m. as they open up a four-game homestand against Taylor Hall and the sputtering Edmonton Oilers. The Hawks will then play host to the Colorado Avalanche (Tuesday), Anaheim Ducks (Friday) and Boston Bruins (Jan. 19) before going back out on the road to face to the Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 22.