Blackhawks still streaking after 4-3 shootout win over Canucks
Marian Hossa leads way with two goals as Chicago goes to 13-0-3
Brandon Saad #20 of the Chicago Blackhawks is knocked to the ice by Alex Edler #23 and Dan Hamhuis #2 of the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on February 19, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.
Photograph by: Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images
CHICAGO - For Kevin Bieksa and some of the other Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, the glass was half full.
Never mind the fact the Canucks were badly outplayed for long stretches. Don’t worry about the fact that they gave up three straight first-period breakaways, two of them while on the power play, and defensively couldn’t seem to handle the Chicago Blackhawks.
What was important was that the Canucks scored two goals in the final three minutes to escape with a point from the United Center after losing 4-3 in a shootout.
“We knew to beat these guys on home ice we’d have to play 60 minutes,” Bieksa said. “We almost beat them with playing maybe 40. It just shows you, if we can put together a full game, we are going to be a dangerous team. That’s mental toughness in my mind.”
It was the Hawks who looked like the dangerous team most of the night, something Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault acknowledged after the game.
“They’ve got tons of speed, look at the overtime, how tough they are to handle one-on-one,” Vigneault said. “They are the best in the NHL right now, and rightfully so. They are playing really well.”
So well the Hawks matched an NHL record by playing their 16th straight game to start the season without a regulation-time loss. They are now 13-0-3 and equalled a record set by the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-7. The Ducks went on to win the Stanley Cup that season. The Blackhawks could well be on their way to doing the same thing.
The Canucks, meanwhile, have a little streak of their own going right now. But not the good kind.
After six consecutive wins and feasting largely on fellow Northwest Division teams, Vancouver has now dropped three straight. The Canucks are finding the sledding a little tougher outside their Northwest Division comfort zone.
The Blackhawks took control in the second period when they scored three unanswered goals and built a 3-1 lead. It could have been much worse as the Hawks came at the Canucks in waves and outshot Vancouver 16-6 in the middle period. Defensively, the Canucks were a mess for much of the night and were outshot 43-32.
“I don’t think it was the kind of game we wanted to get into with them,” said Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider. “They are so skilled offensively and they do a great job of forcing turnovers and jumping on them and all of a sudden they are gone.
“We gave them too many turnovers at both blue-lines and they know what to do with the puck when they get those opportunities ... but give our guys credit for battling back and sticking with it.”
After Daniel Sedin had given the Canucks a 1-0 lead in the first period, Patrick Sharp tied it at 6:36 of the second when he one-timed a slap shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past Schneider.
Then Marian Hossa went to work. His first of two goals came on the second of back-to-back power plays, with Vancouver centre Max Lapierre off serving a careless cross-checking minor. Hossa finished off some nice passing in the Vancouver zone, beating Schneider from the high slot at 13:48.
Less than four minutes later, Hossa scored again on a terrific individual effort. He intercepted a Vancouver clearing attempt on the side boards, skated behind the goal-line and then broke through the crease before beating Schneider with a backhand. Hossa was not touched by the Vancouver defensive pairing of Kevin Bieksa and Jason Garrison en route to the front of the net.
“There were definitely lulls throughout the game from us,” Bieksa said. “We knew they were going to come out hard and they are a good team on home ice in the first 10 minutes of the game. We weathered the storm with some great goaltending early and we got the first goal there.
“The second period obviously is not our best.”
The first wasn’t great, either, when it seemed every time Schneider looked up he was seeing a Blackhawk skating in alone in him. He made saves on breakaways by Hossa, Sharp and Dave Bolland.
“They were really aggressive on the penalty kill and they took advantage of a few miscues on our part,” said Schneider.
Alex Edler’s power-play goal at 17:18 of the third cut Chicago’s lead to 3-2 and Bieksa’s goal at 18:59 of the third, with Schneider on the bench for an extra skater, tied things up.
The Hawks won the shootout when Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw beat Schneider. Chris Higgins was the only Canuck to beat Chicago goaltender Ray Emery in the shootout.
“I think any time you score two goals in the last three minutes you’re happy,” Bieksa said. “But I think it just shows the character on this team. We’re in a hostile environment, but we are not going to give up, it’s going right down to the wire. We get the big power-play goal and follow it up with an empty-netter. It shows the character on our team.”
ICE CHIPS: Centre Andrew Ebbett cleared waivers Tuesday morning and was reassigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL ... The Canucks chartered post-game to Dallas, where they meet the Stars on Thursday ... Winger Aaron Volpatti was scratched to make room for the return of David Booth. Defencemen Andrew Alberts and Cam Barker were also healthy scratches for Vancouver ... The Blackhawks played without defenceman Brent Seabrook, who took a shot to the groin area in Chicago’s 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.
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