In a matchup of Original Six teams here on Saturday night, the Montreal Canadiens hosted the Chicago Blachhawks in what would end up being one of the best played games during the 2013-14 season to date as the Canadiens beat the Blackhawks 2-1 in overtime with Andrei Markov scoring twice for the Habs. Just as importantly, it was a win for the Canadiens based on an outstanding defensive effort against a potent Blackhawks offense.
From the first puck drop it was clear that the Canadiens were on top of their game defensively as they did a good job forechecking on their defensive end while also limiting the Blackhawks in their shot attempts on goal. The Blackhawks were only able to register seven shots on goal in a first period which saw the Canadiens establish a tone defensively with the likes of P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz delivering with some of their best if not best defensive efforts so far this season.
As the Blackhawks began to slowly to make themselves a bigger presence in front of the Canadiens goal, Carey Price showed why he was named to the Canada Olympic Hockey Team on Tuesday as he made some fine saves which will be overshadowed by those made by Corey Crawford to keep the scoreline 1-0 in the Canadiens at that moment in the game. Even when it seemed like the Blackhawks were poised to seize control of the game in the third after Marian Hossa tied the game up at 1-1, the Canadiens’ defense held firm in a winning effort.
Aside from holding the best scoring team in the league to just one goal, the Canadiens defensive effort saw them hold the Blackhawks to just 20 shots on goal without permitting one shot on goal during the overtime period, forced the Blackhawks into 12 giveaways and they won the face-off battle 29-24, allowing them to more often than not control play on the a restart. While in the last few weeks the effort and concentration level of the Candiens’ defense has been one to question, on Saturday night they showed that against the best in the NHL, they are capable of performing at a high level for 60 plus minutes in a winning effort.
Lucas Carreras is a contributing NHL writer for RantSports.com. Lucas is also a contributing San Francisco 49ers and Soccer writer. You can follow Lucas on Twitter by following him @maldini3fan and you can add him to your network on Google.