CHICAGO (AP) — Most of the bounces — even crazy, hard-to-explain ones — seem to be going the Chicago Blackhawks’ way.
Brandon Saad scored with 27 seconds left in the third period and surging Chicago won its fifth straight game, 4-3 over the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.
Saad snapped a shot past Corey Price from the low edge of the right circle for the winner. Patrick Kane shot from the top of the slot and Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov couldn’t handle the puck.
That turned out to be the difference in a back-and-forth, up-tempo game between two Original Six rivals played before a crowd of 22,087, the Blackhawks’ largest this season.
“I think Kaner was trying to get to the net and it got deflected and ended up right on my stick, so I’m thankful for that,” Saad said.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews scored a power-play goal early in the third to tie it at 3. Michal Rozsival and Ben Smith connected at even strength as the Blackhawks won for the eighth time in nine games by coming back from a 3-2 deficit after two periods.
It was just Chicago’s second win this season when trailing after 40 minutes.
“I think there was composure,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “You could sense on the bench there was no desperation.”
“We were heading in the right direction. Let’s be positive in finding a way,” he said.
Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher scored and set up 40-year-old Sergei Gonchar’s first goal in nearly a year. P.K. Subban added a power-play goal for the Canadiens, who have lost two straight and are 1-4-1 in their last six.
Following the game, Canadiens kept watching replays of Saad’s winner, trying to figure out just what happened. Heading into the game, Montreal was a perfect 10-0-0 when leading after two periods.
“It was just a bad break,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. “I thought our effort was there and we competed against a really good hockey team.”
“At times you need breaks to win the hockey game, and we didn’t have the break tonight,” he said.
It was the second and final regular-season contest between the teams. The Blackhawks won 5-0 at Montreal on Nov. 4.
Antti Raanta made 38 saves as Blackhawks No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford sat out his second game with a foot injury, sustained while leaving a concert.
Price blocked 32 shots.
Gonchar, acquired from Dallas on Nov. 11, scored his first goal with the Canadiens and first since Jan. 25, a span of 44 games.
Rozsival, a defenseman, opened the scoring 2:13 in with his first goal of the season to cap a 3-on-2 rush.
Raanta’s pad save denied Brandon Prust on a breakaway midway through the first to maintain the lead, then Smith made it 2-0 with 1:44 left in the period.
Smith’s shot from right wing hit traffic in front and bounced around just beyond the crease, but Smith plowed to the net and chipped in the loose puck.
Gallagher responded just 26 seconds later to make it 2-1 and nip Chicago’s momentum when he one-timed a rising shot from right hash marks into the upper left corner of the net.
Gonchar tied it at 2 at 7:58 of an up-tempo second period.
Subban put Montreal ahead 3-2 with 2:38 left in the second, just 13 seconds into a Canadiens power play.
With Subban off for hooking, Toews’ power-play tap-in at 4:18 of the third made it 3-all.
NOTES: Montreal C Lars Eller sustained an upper-body injury in the first period and didn’t return. … Blackhawks F Patrick Sharp missed his 13th game (knee) on Friday, but could rejoin the team during a four-game road trip that starts Saturday in Nashville. Chicago has been on a roll without the 32-year-old winger, who led the team in goals (34) and points (78) last season. “I’m just trying to get myself back into game shape and jump right in,” Sharp said. He was injured on Nov. 4 in Montreal. … The Blackhawks honored Canadiens great Jean Beliveau, who died on Tuesday, with a pregame moment of silence.
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