By Brad Vandenberk
The road trip continued for the Blackhawks as they headed into Vancouver to play the vengeful Canucks. The goose egg was slightly cracked Wednesday night in Minnesota where the Hawks came up short in a shootout losing 3-2, but still obtained a single point to put them a top the NHL leader board.
Excitement was in the air as the coin turned up heads and the Canucks started Hawks favourite Roberto Luongo. The Hawks countered with their tales toss and started Cory Crawford. The home squad made the Hawks well aware that they wanted some revenge on the elbow that Duncan Keith through on Daniel Sedin last season. Keith said he just wanted to stick to hockey.
Brandon Bollig replaced Jamal Mayers with Michal Rozsival and Dan Carcillo still out with knee injuries. This was game two of their six game road trip and with a zero in the loss column; the Hawks were looking to continue their strong start.
The opening period saw the Canucks ice the puck three times within the first 65 seconds. Vancouver sees their first power play early as Niklas Hjalmarsson heads to the box for interference. Jordan Schroeder had a great chance to put the Nucks up one, but Crawford was there to make the save. Both teams had chances to open the scoring as boooo’s and Luuuuu’s rained down from the crowd. Brandon Saad is starting to look like he belongs on that top line and what better mentor then Johnny Toews. The rookie was going hard to the net and had many great opportunities to get his first NHL goal of the year. The Sedin’s were up to their dominate puck control, testing Crawford. Keith Ballard is the next victim as he gets called for interference and the Hawks get their first power play attempt. It was not as successful as we have witnessed since the start of this season. Vancouver breaks in shorthanded and Crawford needs to out duel Luongo once again. With 4:18 left in the open frame, the Nucks break in and storm the net, Zach Kassian finds Alex Edler moving into the slot. He fires one high over the glove of Crawford and Rogers Arena ignites! Later Burrows gets whistled for offside and tucks the puck past Crawford anyway. Sheldon Brookbank takes exception to the gesture and they both get some penalty time with and rough and an unsportsmanlike and we saw some 4 on 4 hockey. Saad drew another penalty giving the Hawks a 4 on 3 with Edler heading to the box for a trip. The power play doesn’t capitalize and the first ends with the Canucks leading 1-0 and the shots tied at 9 apiece.
The rejuvenated 3rd line was creating a great for check to open the second. Mason Raymond rings one off of Crawford’s face trying to rattle the net minder. Rookie Saad was very noticeable tonight as he walks around Edler and makes another hard play to the net. Luongo shuts the door again. Marcus Kruger and Toews shared scoring attempts. The Sedin’s were putting the pressure on the Hawks defence. Patrick Sharp seemed like he was going through the motions out there but did get a few cracks at Bobby Lou. Patrick Kane wanted to score and increase his team leading 10 points. Saad was on a mission as draws another penalty with Jason Garrison getting caught for hooking. The power play takes another dive in the rankings with another failed attempt. The period ends and the Hawks still leading the game in shots with an 18 -15 advantage, but not on the score sheet.
The Hawks entered the third still down one. They get an early power play attempt once again with Raymond heading to the box for tripping. The Canucks get another shorthanded chance on this woeful power play. An odd moment happens when Jannik Hansen seems to slash the inside of Dave Bolland’s leg. Bolland lets the world know as he smashed his stick on the boards and leaves the game and does not return. The Canucks picked up their physical play in the 3rd as both Raymond and Kassian through their weight around. At the 10:18 mark, Andrew Shaw works in the corner and comes out passing it over to Kane. He waits till big Lou hit the ground and roofs it upstairs tying the game at one. Now it’s turn for the Hawks to get into some penalty trouble. Kruger takes a high sticking call. Then Michael Frolik sends the puck into the stands from his own end and the Canucks get a 5 on 3 to break the tie. The Hawks top penalty kill unit was in full effect as they killed off the penalties. Johnny Oduya makes another no no and gets called for a hook. Chances were shared from both teams but an extra period was needed to solve the victor of this match. Good news is the Hawks get another point tying them for first with the San Jose Sharks.
4 on 4 hockey favours the Hawks, but tonight Luongo was making a bigger statement then beating the Hawks. Saad was again talked about all night long and tried to end it early for the Hawks in overtime. Duncan Keith also tried, finding Shaw, but to no avail. With just 1:11 remaining, Jason Garrison clips Kane’s chin with his stick and takes a seat. The 4 on 3 had its chances but Lou sends the game to a shootout.
Alexandre Burrows opens the shootout for the Canucks and tries to go back hand and his denied by the arm of Crawford.
Toews is next and is stopped by the glove of Luongo.
Kassian flips it wide over Crawford.
Kane comes in, slows up and tries to get Lou to fall, he goes backhand and Luongo swallows it up.
Maxim Lapierre tries to go five-hole and Crawford denies.
Rookie Jordan Schroeder breaks in and lets it slide under Crawford and pass the goal line.
Nick Leddy is up next, yes this is not a typo, and fires it wide past Luongo.
The Canucks win 2-1 in a shootout and the Hawks are 6-0-2.
-Hawks go 0 for 5 on the power play and kill all 4 Canuck power plays.
-Hawks outshot the Canucks 28-22
-Keith led all Hawks with 28:21 TOI
-Kruger was 7 for 9 in the faceoff dot with Toews winning 12 for 17.
-Bolland left the game and didn’t return, it is uncertain his status for Saturdays night’s game in Calgary. We should see Ray Emery get the start. Although Crawford played well against the Canucks, this would give Emery a game on the road trip as well as rest Crawford until Tuesday’s game against the undefeated Sharks.