By Brad Vandenberk
On a four game winning streak, the Chicago Blackhawks returned home to face their favourite foe, the Vancouver Canucks. The Hawks were in Columbus the night before, handing the Jackets a season sweep with a 5-1 victory. The Canucks had the luxury of spending a record setting hot March day in Chicago awaiting the Hawks return home late morning. After going on a 9 game losing streak the Hawks have gone 8-1-1. Most of those games have been played without captain serious, as he remains on the road to recovery. The Canucks come into this game losers of five in seven. Corey Crawford regained his crease for the Hawks and Roberto Luongo started for the visiting team. Luongo hasn’t played in the Canucks last two losses. Jamal Mayers was a last minute scratch with the flu inserting Brendan Morrison into the 4th line center spot.
After the fans took their seats after an epic cheer for their anthem, the Canucks were up 1-0. Just 27 seconds into the period Jannik Hansen speeds past Johnny Oduya, firing a far blocker puck past Crawford. This silenced the crowd quite quickly! Scary moment in the crowd as Hansen puts Oduya through the glass. A fan sitting first row, wore the pane but remained in his seat. Canucks get the first chance on the power play. Viktor Stalberg gets call for hooking as the Canucks speed starts to pick up. The Hawks kill this one off not giving the Nucks any space. Agitator Brandon Bollig punches Zack Kassian in the face after a stoppage. Again, this gave the Canucks another power play chance as Bollig gets two for roughing. The Hawks penalty kill was very much switched on tonight as they kill off another man advantage. Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, had a great opportunity to even the score. Hossa tips a shot from Kane, but Luongo was sharp kicking that one aside. Then, mystery man Michael Frolik takes a puck hard to the net running into a crowd losing the rock. The Canucks head back the other way 3 on 2. The action was end to end and the chances were there for both teams. Marcus Kruger dangled into the zone and slid a sweet feed to Patrick Sharp who puts the puck right off Chris Higgins’ skate. The Canucks remain up 1 with 7:44 remaining. Moments later Duncan Keith decides to send a payback hit as he is booked for an elbowing call on Daniel Sedin. It was later found out that Sedin had given Keith a head shot earlier in the game. Keith gets 2 minutes for elbowing and the Canucks watched Daniel Sedin take one shift on the power play and then head to the dressing room, not returning to the contest. The Hawks outshot the Canucks in the period 12-6 and are down 1-0.
As the second period began, Marcus Kruger was not on the bench for the Blackhawks. It was later announced that he was out with an upper body injury.
The Hawks started the period knowing that with one Sedin done for the night, the Canucks would come out fired up! At the 16:48 mark of the second, Kane gets his 20th of the year. Andrew Brunette worked in behind the net and gets the puck out to Hossa. He puts the puck on net and Luongo leaves a rebound out front to Kane, who puts it top shelf. Tie game! Shortly after, the Hawks got their first attempt on the power play. As the tempers were reaching the boiling point, Kevin Bieksa was caught with a slash as the teams were in the middle of a line change. Finally the kettle was ready for tea! As one penalty ends another one begins. With every Canuck player wanting to pull the hair of Keith so Sedin can frame it, Alexandre Burrows received a roughing penalty giving the Hawks 15 second of 5 on 3. Kane creates a few chances during the power play, but the Canucks keep the scored tied. Just a minute after Burrows returned to the ice, Keith’s bull’s eye was finally hit. Kassian tries to take Keith down to the ice. Burrows again, enters the wrestling match washing Keith’s face with the palm of his gloves. Keith tried to claw his way out of the pile with every player on the ice ready to fight someone. This showed that the Hawks are not going to back down from anyone. When the smoke cleared Keith, Burrows and Kassian all received a 2 minute rough penalty with 10 minute misconducts. Brother Hank threw on his loin cloth and tried to avenge his brother. He gets called for a Hook on Kane. Then after serving that penalty he trips up Crawford behind the net and he heads back to the box for goaltender interference. The Hawks could not get a goal past Luongo and outshot the Canucks once again 11-3 to end the second tied at 1.
Early in the third, Mason Raymond forced Crawford to make many important saves. Hossa and Kane create another great scoring chance, with Luongo there to keep the score knotted. On the other end, Crawford knew how important this win would be as he made some great saves. A cheer was heard throughout the UC as Keith was final back on the ice after serving over 12 minutes in penalties. Keith was determined to make up for his mistake as he had a few great chances to end the game. As the period is about to end Kane walks around the Canucks defense and heads in on Luongo, who makes another save. The period ended with both teams getting a single point. The Canucks won the shot advantage in this period barely outshooting the Hawks 14-12.
The Hawks begin to see a tired Canucks group as the 4 on 4 period began. Oduya gets a chance early with Lou scrambling in his net. Stalberg also has a great chance to send the Canucks packing but Lou was there once again. Finally Andrew Shaw called the airport and booked the plane. Canucks defensemen Sami Salo made a bad decision and Dave Bolland took advantage. He blows into the offensive zone and sends a puck across to a late Oduya. He lets the shot go and Shaw tips the game winner past Luongo giving the Hawks their 5th straight win 2-1.
-Hawks outshot the Canucks 37-24.
-Hawks go 0 for 5 on the power play with Vancouver not fairing to well either going 0 for 3
-With Duncan Keith in the box for 14 minutes Brent Seabrook led all Hawks with 27:00 TOI.
-Nick Leddy, who left Tuesday night’s game in Columbus with an apparent upper body ailment, suited up and skated 18:01 against the Canucks.
-Kane was dominated in the faceoff circle winning only 3 of 18 face offs.
-Keith will definitely be hearing from the league on a possible suspense. Keith will be missed if a suspension is given, especially with the Hawks next 3 games being Nashville, New Jersey and the big bad Blues.
-Hawks have 92 points and remained in 6th place in the western conference. They are currently tied with the Predators who they still have to play twice before the season ends.
-Next game sees the Hawks play host to the newest Predator as Alexander Radulov makes an appearance at the United Center.