By Brad Vandenberk
The Chicago Blackhawks kicked off their 6 game road trip on Wednesday with a visit to Rogers Arena in Vancouver to square off against the Canucks. This would be the 33rd time these two teams have met since the 2008-2009 season. The last meeting on Nov 6th ended ugly for the Hawks as the Canucks went 5 for 6 on the power play and beat the Hawks 6-2. Revenge is always a dish best served cold.
Cory Schneider got the start in net as Roberto Luongo had missed the last 2 days of practice with an upper body injury. Dave Bolland returned to the line up for the Hawks after missing the last 3 games with a foot injury. Brent Seabrook did not dress for this game after going hard into the boards during the Edmonton Oilers game on Sunday night.
The first period had a Game One playoff feel to it, as both goalies were tested early and both coaches tried to get there preferred match ups. Bolland returned starting on the 4th line. It didn’t take long for him to regain his center position on the 3rd line pestering the Sedins.
Both teams had their fair share of chances. Canuck, Ryan Kesler, had a wide open net, but shot wide. Kevin Bieksa had a break in and put a backhand off the cross bar. Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa continued to show why they are one of the best players in the game as they both had chances to get one past Cory Schneider. Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp also had a jump in their step.
Canuck Defensemen Keith Ballard hip checked Dan Carcillo awkwardly and left the game and did not return, leaving the Canuck with just five defensemen.
Period two opened up with a nice chip pass from Daniel Sedin down the boards to his brother Henrik Sedin. Henrik broke in on a 2 on 1 with Jannik Hansen. Sedin saucered a nice pass to Hansen who put it past Corey Crawford making the score 1-0 just 38 seconds in.
At 4:06 of the period, Viktor Stalberg drew the first penalty of the game as he was tripped by Kesler in the Hawks’ defensive zone. Then, the Hawks second power play unit went to work. Steve Montador entered the zone with the puck and got it over to Marcus Kruger, who sent a backhand pass to a wide open Andrew Brunette, who scored his 4th goal of the year. All four of those have come on the power play. The score was tied 1-1 with 14:48 remaining in the period.
Six minutes later, the Canucks found themselves back in penalty trouble as Alex Burrows slashed Duncan Keith during a Hawks 3 on 1.
This time the Hawks first power play unit needed just 11 seconds to put their second power play goal in past Schneider. Toews won the face off back to Keith, who got it over to Hossa, who found Kane. Kane took the puck to the middle of the ice and put the puck in off Canuck Defensemen Sami Salo, giving the Hawks the lead 2-1 after 2 periods. Both goals coming on the power play.
The final frame saw the Hawks explode for 3 goals in four minutes. The first, coming at 12:40, saw Hossa hustles down into the Canuck zone and gets the puck over to Stalberg who found the captain Toews for his 5th in 4 games.
Then, 1:49 later, Patrick Sharp let a shot go from the top of the circle. With Dan Carcillo creating a perfect screen, the puck slipped by Schneider making the score 4-1 Hawks.
Finally, defenemen Steve Montador continued his contribution on offense has he got a drop pass from Hossa and let a shot go which hit the near post and went into the net with 3:17 left in regulation.
Final score 5-1 Hawks.
-Marcus Kruger opened the game on the 3rd line while Dave Bolland centered the 4h line. At the 10:15 mark of the first, Dave Bolland found himself back on the 3rd line against the Sedins.
-The Hawks went 2 for 3 on the power play with both the first and second units scoring.
-Bryan Bickell was sent to the 4th line as Andrew Brunette was up playing with the 3rd line after he put in his 4th goal of the year on a power play.
-Michael Frolik slid awkwardly into the boards after being hit by Alex Edler. He was slow to get up, but did finish the game.
-The Blackhawks did not get called for a penalty for the entire game until the horn went and Dan Carcillo was called for a slash. No power play attempt for the Canucks as there was no time left on the clock.
-Duncan Keith led all Hawks with 29:54 of TOI. This was in the absence of defense partner Brent Seabrook, who hopes to return soon to the Hawks line up.
-The Hawks were out shot in this game 29-27.
-Jonathan Toews now has 6 points in 4 games as he picked up 1G and 1A on Wednesday.
-Marian Hossa continues his huge year as he adds 3 assists.
-Hawks get their 4th straight win and continue to lead the NHL with 27 points (12-4-3)
-Next stop on the Hawks circus road trip has them heading over to Calgary to play the Flames on Friday night.