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Markov, Canadiens beat Blackhawks in OT

The SportsXchange

MONTREAL -- A game against the Chicago Blackhawks brought out the best in the Montreal Canadiens.

Montreal delivered one of its strongest efforts of the season and defenseman Andrei Markov scored twice to give the Canadiens a 2-1 overtime win over the Blackhawks on Saturday night at the Bell Centre.

Left winger Max Pacioretty's shot towards the front of the net deflected off Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith towards Markov at the left circle, who made no mistake for his second of the night.

"That was a huge game for us. We knew we were playing against a good team, one of the best in the league," said Markov, whose two tallies were his first at even strength this season. "I think that was the best game so far for us. We played from start to finish and we played a strong game. We have to keep going the same way."

After a lengthy stretch of games in which the Canadiens struggled to put together a full 60 minutes, Montreal (26-15-5) came out ready for the reigning Stanley Cup champions. They put the pressure on and drew a pair of penalties back-to-back in the opening frame but couldn't find the back of the net while outshooting the Blackhawks 10-7.

They kept at it in the second, drawing another Chicago penalty and again outshooting the Blackhawks in the period but couldn't convert.

Markov broke the scoreless deadlock at 12:54 of the middle period. Taking a feed from defense partner Alexei Emelin, the veteran blue-liner skated in from the left point to the circle and fired a shot past Crawford, who was screened by right winger George Parros.

"For me, we played a heck of a game. It was a good team win," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "One of our best games of the season against one of the best teams in the league. We were able to limit the Blackhawks to 20 shots on goal and when we had a breakdown, Carey made the saves."

Right winger Marian Hossa scored the lone goal for Chicago (29-8-10) but was otherwise kept in check along with center Jonathan Toews and left winger Patrick Sharp by the Canadiens' trio of center Tomas Plekanec, right winger Brian Gionta and left winger Travis Moen.

"He grabbed a lot of momentum going into that overtime period. He threw us all on his back and carried us tonight," said Montreal netminder Carey Price, who stopped 19 shots on the night, of Plekanec, who recorded 11 shots on goal at the other end.

Goalie Corey Crawford made 36 saves for the Blackhawks, who have lost three straight for just the second time this season.

"He made several key saves that kept us in the game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of his netminder. "He gave us a chance to get two (points) and was certainly a factor in us getting one."

Several of those came late in the second with the Blackhawks on the power play. Crawford denied center Thomas Plekanec on back-to-back opportunities then stoned left winger Brandon Prust before a huge pad save on center Lars Eller.

Hossa got the Blackhawks on the board at 9:22 of the third when he easily tipped center Jonathan Toews dish from the right circle. It was Chicago's second shot on goal of the period.

"I don't know if it's so much the teams we're playing against lately as much as it is our own game that we have to pick up," Toews said. "I think you saw it in the third. We finally started playing with a little hunger and intensity.

"All four lines were engaged and we were just trying to create something. Not only that, we were playing a little more responsibly in our zone."

The Blackhawks haven't won in Montreal since December 3, 2001.

NOTES: The Blackhawks have an NHL-high 10 players named to Olympic teams, representing five different countries. ... The Canadiens will see eight of their players head to Sochi, tied for second-most, while the six different countries represented are the most of any team in the league. ... Montreal scratched D Francis Bouillon while C Ryan White and LW Alex Galchenyuk remained sidelined with injuries. ... Chicago scratched D Sheldon Brookbank and D Michal Roszival. ... The Blackhawks were making their first appearance at the Bell Centre since April 5, 2011.

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