The Impact, mired in last place in Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference, remained winless on the road (0-12 with four ties) but at least salvaged their first road point since a 0-0 tie at Vancouver on June 25.
"We fought hard, I think the first 10 to 15 minutes they had a lot of possession but as the game went along we grew," said Impact assistant coach Mauro Biello, filling in for suspended head coach Frank Klopas. "In the second half we were probably the better team in terms of possession and creating chances."
Chicago pushed aggressively through the opening half but pressure tapered off in the second while Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush collected eight saves for the day and his third shutout.
The Impact (6-18-7) managed just six shots and only two on goal while Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson earned his sixth shutout.
Montreal also dashed Chicago's lingering playoff hopes. The ninth-place Fire (5-8-18) needed a victory over Montreal to say alive in the post-season hunt. Instead, Chicago will miss the playoffs for the second straight season and fourth out of the last five seasons.
The Fire's 18th tie also extended a new league record for draws. Chicago and New York had shared the old mark of 16, set in 2011.
"It sort of defines our season," said Fire coach Frank Yallop, the one-time Canadian national team boss. "Not quite good enough to win the game, but we did okay in the match. We're not quite good enough to win games and see games out."
Klopas was suspended following his ejection from a Sept. 27 loss at Columbus.
The former Fire head coach, dismissed after the 2013 season, remained within terms of his suspension and avoided the field but still greeted old friends and fans from his Chicago days.
"It was good to be back," said Klopas, a Chicago soccer fixture since high school and later as a local pro player and coach. "I miss being here. I told the guys today you take things for granted when you live here."
The Impact resume play on Saturday at home against New England before their final road trip to Toronto on Oct. 18. They'll close the season on Oct. 25 against D.C. United.