By Jon Fromi
The Chicago Blackhawks visited Vancouver Saturday night and rallied to defeat the Canucks 2-1 at Rogers Arena. Both Blackhawks goals were scored in a nine-second interval in the third period as Chicago picked two key points after trailing through the first 40 minutes.
Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger provided the offense, while Corey Crawford anchored the defense with 36 saves. Chicago won its second game in a row and are now 2-1 on their current road trip.
First Period-Kris Versteeg had the first good look of the contest in the second minute coming up the middle of the ice, though there wasn’t much on the shot and Roberto Luongo handled the attempt. Alexander Edler put a couple of shots on Corey Crawford in the fifth minute. Crawford fought off traffic in front of the net to make the saves.
Brandon Pirri came up the right side in the seventh minute but his shot found Luongo’s glove. Johnny Oduya boarded Ryan Kesler at the 7:12 mark to set up the Canucks for the game’s first power play. A 3-on-2 rush led by Brent Seabrook nearly led to a shorthanded goal as Ben Smith powered to the net. The attempt was just off to the right, though the Hawks did kill the penalty.
In the eleventh minute, Versteeg picked off a pass in the Canucks zone and found Kane in front of the net. However, Luongo poked the puck away before Kane could get off a shot. Duncan Keith sprung Pirri and Kane for a 2-on-1 rush with a nice pass from the corner a few minutes later. Pirri hit Kane with a pass but the shot was gloved by Luongo.
Pirri had a one-timer miss the goal in the sixteenth minute following a Vancouver turnover. With 2:43 left in the period, Saad was called for slashing on Kesler and the Canucks again had the man advantage.
Midway through the penalty, Andrew Shaw interfered with Henrik Sedin and the Hawks faced a 5-on-3 for the rest of the period. Crawford turned away a blast by Jason Garrison, but Kesler gathered in the rebound at the left dot and beat Crawford to the corner. Vancouver took a 1-0 lead at the 18:33 mark and held that advantage as the teams went to intermission.
Second Period-Crawford stopped an attempt from Ryan Stanton a minute into the period. Toews led an odd man rush on the next shift but Oduya’s shot was high. Crawford made two outstanding saves on shots by Kesler and Dan Hamhuis in the third minute.
Keith saved a goal by tying up Alexandre Burrows when the Canucks forward had a loose puck and an open net in the fifth minute. A few shifts later, Shaw and Versteeg came up the ice on the odd man rush.
Shaw drew a hooking penalty from Stanton and Chicago went on the power play. Vancouver turned it away without allowing a single shot on goal.
A Michal Rozsival turnover in the corner led to Henrik Sedin being denied by Crawford on a wraparound attempt. Keith stuffed a similar attempt by Burrows soon after when it appeared that Burrows had beaten Crawford to the right post.
Versteeg got off a shot that was blocked away by Luongo in the seventeenth minute. The two teams went back and forth in the final minutes before going to the locker room with the score 1-0 in favor of the Canucks.
Third Period-Jeremy Morin made an outstanding move to the net after receiving a long pass from Keith. Kesler was forced to hook Morin and the Hawks had a power play to try and even the score. A Shaw redirect struck both goalposts but failed to venture into the promised land. Kevin Bieksa lost his stick but the Hawks couldn’t convert as Luongo made the save and forced a faceoff.
Soon after the penalty expired, Shaw redirected a backhand attempt by Kane to tie the contest at the 4:40 mark. On the ensuing faceoff, Niklas Hjalmarsson sent the puck along the boards, where Marcus Kruger gained possession just past the red line. Kruger drove to the net and sent the puck past Luongo to put Chicago up 2-1 4:13 into the final frame.
Crawford was able to absorb a Burrows redirect midway through the period as the Canucks’ desperation began to build. Crawford turned away two other tough shots on the same Vancouver shift. Dale Wiese’s backhand attempt in front of the net was stopped as well in the thirteenth minute.
The Canucks continued to hammer away at Crawford as the sands began to run out in the contest. Quenneville called his timeout after Shaw iced the puck with 3:42 to play. Shaw won the resulting defensive draw and got the puck out to get his team a shift change.
Luongo came to the bench with 1:40 left and the Hawks continued to hold off the Canucks. A minute later, John Tortorella called his timeout and the stage was set for the final push.
Kruger won a crucial draw in his own end and the Hawks were able to clear the zone. An offside infraction by the Canucks with 13 seconds to go resulted in a neutral zone faceoff. Henrik Sedin won the draw but the Hawks denied entry into their zone and sealed the win.
Three Stars-Keith (third), Luongo (second), Crawford (first)
-WGN lost picture and sound coming out of the Vancouver timeout, stopping hearts throughout Chicagoland.
-Crow stopped 36 of 37 shots and with Keith’s help was the difference Saturday. The Hawks got a big road win against a tough opponent to go 2-1 on the Circus Trip. Now, could Quenneville please give him the night off Monday and send Antti Raanta out against the Oilers?
-Smith was not credited for an assist on Kruger’s game winner but, damn it, he should have. I couldn’t tell if he made contact with the puck, but he tied up Stanton and allowed Kruger to gain possession and start the 2-on-1.
-Kruger was just three of seven at the dot in his own zone but won a couple of key defensive faceoffs. Smith was five of six in defensive draws. Overall the Hawks bested Vancouver at the dot 30-23.
-The physical play really picked up in the final 20 minutes. Toews took a crosscheck from Edler in the latter stages of the game. The captain was in some distress but returned to action.
-Shaw’s penalty came as it looked like the Hawks were on their way to another odd man shorthanded attempt. Giving the Canucks a two-man advantage was a big momentum swing in a period I thought was controlled by Chicago for the most part.
-John Tortorella shortened his bench on the second night of a back-to-back, though the Hawks couldn’t take advantage. With Brookbank (6:23, some of which were skated on defense) and Jeremy Morin (a why-even-bother 4:58) receiving limited minutes, Joel Quenneville was skating with 10 forwards most of the night.
Smith got some time on the first line in the third period. Quenneville also put Kane, Toews and Shaw together for the shift that led to the first Hawks goal.
Rozsival spent the third period on the bench with Brookbank pairing with Leddy.