CHICAGO (AP) — Patrick Kane had a big grin on his face as he skated around the back of the net to congratulate Artemi Panarin on his nifty pass in the third period.
Lots of smiles for the Chicago Blackhawks these days.
The Blackhawks matched a franchise record with their 11th straight victory, using two goals from Jonathan Toews to beat the slumping Montreal Canadiens, 5-2, on Sunday.
“Every night’s a little bit different, but net-net I think we’re playing responsible, playing the score, playing the time, and got some momentum,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Marian Hossa had an empty-net goal and two assists for Chicago, and Kane had a goal and an assist. Richard Panik scored his first goal of the season, and Corey Crawford, a Montreal native, made 27 saves while improving to 5-0-2 in seven career starts against his hometown team.
The Blackhawks (31-13-4) also won 11 straight from Feb. 15 to March 6, 2013, and then went on to the second of three Stanley Cup titles in the past six seasons. The defending NHL champions, who won 2-1 at Montreal on Thursday, go for 12 in a row at Nashville on Tuesday night.
“In 2013, we had an unbelievable stretch, but right now, definitely it’s another one,” Hossa said. “It’s another new chapter and it’s just nice to see everybody contributing in a different way. Overall, it’s a winning attitude, so it’s nice to see.”
Montreal (23-19-4) has lost four in a row and five of six. The Canadiens also dropped to 6-15-2 since star goaltender Carey Price was shelved by a lower-body injury in November.
“We’re going to get out of this,” forward Brendan Gallagher said. “It’s taken longer than we would have liked, but we’re going to get out of this. The only way we’re going to do that is sticking together as a group. Tonight we weren’t good enough.”
Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, and Ben Scrivens made 28 stops in his first start since Jan. 5 at Philadelphia. Scrivens, who was acquired in a Dec. 28 trade with Edmonton, is winless in three starts on the season.
The Canadiens were coming off a 4-3 overtime loss at St. Louis on Saturday.
“It wasn’t the performance we were looking for after such a hard-fought, emotional game last night,” Pacioretty said.
Pacioretty’s power-play goal at 10:22 of the third got the Canadiens within one, but Kane responded for the Blackhawks just 71 seconds later. Kane got a great pass from Panarin and scored on a one-timer for his NHL-best 29th goal.
“Great play by him. It’s a safe play, too,” Kane said. “He chips it in, beats his guy to the puck, and throws a great pass over between the guy’s legs and pretty much in that situation, you’re just trying to get it on net and surprise the goalie.”
Kane, who also leads the league with 40 assists, has eight goals and 11 assists in the last 11 games.
Toews gave Chicago a 2-1 lead with his 18th goal at 13:38 of the second, punching it home from in front of the net. The captain made the most of a fortunate carom right to him with 1:21 to go in the period, bringing the puck out from behind the net and beating Scrivens with a backhander.
Toews has 10 goals and eight assists in his last 16 games.
“You know what, we just played, first of all, the Stanley Cup champion, they looked better than last year,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. “They played with a lot of confidence. They’re capable of making plays in tight. They’re got some really, really quality hockey players. They’re tough to play against.”
NOTES: Blackhawks D Erik Gustafsson returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury. He assisted on Panik’s goal. … The Blackhawks improved to 28-3-2 when they score the first goal of the game. … Canadiens RW Dale Weise played in his 300th NHL game. … Chicago reassigned slumping forward Bryan Bickell to Rockford of the American Hockey League. The 29-year-old Bickell has no goals and two assists in 23 games with the Blackhawks this season.
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