MONTREAL (AP) — Corey Crawford came up big again in his hometown — and damaged the Canadiens’ postseason hopes in the process.
Crawford stopped all 48 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season and the surging Chicago Blackhawks won their fifth straight with a 2-0 victory over struggling Montreal on Saturday night.
“That’s a big win for us against a team that’s close to being in the playoffs,” said Crawford, who set a career high for saves in a regular-season game. “They need points, too. We kept them to the outside for the most part. Our penalty kill was solid.”
Connor Murphy and Brendan Perlini scored for the Blackhawks.
Crawford improved to 9-2-2 in his career against the Canadiens, including 5-0-2 at Montreal. He has won his last five games at the Bell Centre.
“I grew up a huge Habs fan when I was younger, so it’s always exciting to come back and play in this building,” said Crawford, who faced 18 shots in the third period alone. “It’s nice to get a win coming back here.”
Carey Price stopped 22 shots for the Canadiens, who have dropped four of their last five games to fall out of a playoff spot. Price has played in 18 of the last 19 games for Montreal, which outshot Chicago 48-24.
The Canadiens (37-28-7) are three points out of the second wild-card spot with 10 games remaining in the season — five of those are on the road.
Carolina is in the first wild-card spot with 85 points, one point ahead of Columbus. The Canadiens are on the outside looking in with 81 points.
“Our backs are against the wall,” captain Shea Weber said. “We have to find a way to win. Everyone is frustrated. We want to win and we’re not winning, so it’s tough. We have to find a way to score goals.”
Crawford needed to be on his game all night. Midway through the second period, the Blackhawks goalie made back-to-back saves on Paul Byron and Andrew Shaw. Two minutes later, he robbed Artturi Lehkonen in close with the glove.
With nine minutes left in the game, Crawford stopped Joel Armia from point-blank range to preserve Chicago’s two-goal lead.
Byron came closest to beating the Hawks goaltender when his second-period shot rang off the crossbar.
Crawford has never lost in regulation time in his hometown (5-0-2). He has won his last five at the Bell Centre.
Murphy scored the game’s first goal 3:04 into the second period. The defenseman took a pass from Dylan Strome in his skates, kicked the puck onto his stick, and beat Price from the slot high glove-side.
Perlini made it 2-0 at 4:49 of the third period on a nice give-and-go with teammate Alex DeBrincat.
The game featured Montreal’s league-worst power play against Chicago’s NHL-worst penalty kill. The Hawks came out on top, with the Canadiens going 0 for 4 with the man advantage.
“We were digging and we were getting in front,” said fourth-liner Jordan Weal, who had the second-most ice time among Canadiens forwards. “It was one of those nights where we couldn’t put one past the goal line. It’s frustrating because every game right now is so huge.
“We were generating a lot. We were hitting posts. We were hitting crossbars. We were millimeters away. If we play like that here on out, we have a good chance to win.”
NOTES: The Canadiens celebrated Price’s franchise record-setting 315th career victory in a pregame ceremony. ... Montreal was coming off a 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday.
Blackhawks: home vs. Vancouver on Monday night.
Canadiens: at Philadelphia on Tuesday night.