Iain MacIntyre: Canucks get a Kaning in Chicago

 

Blackhawks' 4-0 win means more road trip misery for Vancouver

 
 
 
 
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates past Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega (55) and defenseman Matt Bartkowski (44) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
 
 

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates past Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega (55) and defenseman Matt Bartkowski (44) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.

Photograph by: Andrew Nelles, AP

More on This Story

 

CHICAGO — The Vancouver Canucks won three road games in the first seven days of their season, and they’ve won three road games in two months since then.

Sunday’s 4-0 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, who scored three times in the final 8½ minutes after leading 1-0 most of the night, followed a familiar pattern for the Canucks. They work hard, they compete. But their special teams fail to execute at key times and they just can’t score enough.

So they lose the game, try to rally themselves by noting how well they worked and competed, then move on to the next city. Rinse, repeat.

----

CLICK HERE to view more photos or if you are on a mobile app, tap the photo and swipe

----

But as Canuck coach Willie Desjardins noted earlier this season, the National Hockey League is a “get-it-done” enterprise. As with golf, there’s no room on the scorecard for pictures. Just numbers.

A year ago, the Canucks were one of the best road teams in hockey at 24-14-3. In their last 12 games away from home, they’ve won twice (2-6-4). They’ve also lost four straight (0-2-2) and during this streak have scored three goals — once at even-strength.

They’re 6-6-5 on the road this season. But remember, they were 3-0-0 the first week and 4-0-1 the first month. In nearly all of the 12 road games since then, they’ve been close enough to have a chance to win but been unable to do so.

Sunday, special teams undermined them again.

The Canucks allowed the Blackhawks to score on their first chance — a lucky, double-deflection goal by Duncan Keith after an offensive-zone tripping penalty by Chris Higgins — and Vancouver’s power play, despite several excellent chances, finished 0-for-3.

And Chicago’s Corey Crawford was the best goalie, posting a 30-save shutout. Goaltending and special teams. Repeat and rinse that, too.

“Winning on the road is hard,” Desjardins stated Sunday night. “We’ve won some big games on the road. There’s some tough buildings to win in and we’ve won in them. To me, it’s more at home. Our road record has been good; we’ve played hard on the road. Usually, if you can go .750 at home and .500 on the road it’s pretty good. And we’re .500 on the road. We just have to be .750 at home.”

Well, the Canucks are so not .750 at Rogers Arena. They’re 5-6-3 (.464) and 27th in the NHL at home.

But telling themselves they’re a .500 road team is embracing a false economy.

The Canucks play Tuesday in Minnesota, where the Wild has lost just three times in regulation this season. But St. Paul was the site of Vancouver’s last road win, 3-2 on Nov. 25, and the Canucks will try to rally around that.

But after losing against an excellent Blackhawk team, the Canucks are now playing from behind on their six-game road trip. They visit Philadelphia and Detroit back-to-back starting Thursday, with a two-hour flight across a time zone between them, then finish their pre-Christmas tour with two games next week in Florida.

“The position we’ve put ourselves in already, we can’t be a here-or-there kind of team,” Canuck goalie Ryan Miller said. “But again, the score ends up 4-0 ... (but) we were in it. I thought the effort was good tonight. I really liked the way we were playing structurally. They have a tonne of talent; they’re going to get a few looks. But I thought it was even (or) we had a few more scoring chances than them. That’s the kind of hockey we need to play. If we can believe in that and keep doing it, we’ll get results.”

The Canucks had a chance to build momentum after Wednesday’s dramatic 2-1 home win against the New York Rangers gave Vancouver consecutive victories anywhere for the first time since Nov. 2. Listening to Miller and Danny Sedin and others, maybe the Canucks did build on it. Importantly, they just didn’t get anything built in the standings, which shows them 11-12-8 after 31 games.

Almost incomprehensively, the Canucks sit in a playoff position as the third-place team in the Pacific Division. But all four teams behind them are within three points and all have played fewer games than Vancouver.

“There’s a reason we are where we are: we’re not winning enough games,” winger Jannik Hansen said. “Not winning games at home, either. (But) we’re not looking at our record. We were trying to get two points tonight, no different than two nights from now in Minnesota.”

A year ago, the Canucks looked like a team that would find a way to win close games on the road. Now, they don’t instil that kind of confidence.

“Confidence? I don’t know,” Sedin said. “You can tell on the ice. Like I said, I still think we played a good game. But we’ve got to get some goals.

“First game of the road trip, we wanted to get off to a good start and get the win. But we played well enough to be in this game and maybe win it. We’ve got to stay positive and keep going.”

Desjardins said: “I’d build off effort. I think effort is the most important — the drive to win, the desire to win. And I thought our guys had a good desire tonight. I thought we battled hard. I thought we wanted the game. I thought guys blocked shots. I thought we did everything we could to win, but we just came out on the wrong end of it.

“You get frustrated when you don’t win. When you put in a lot and it doesn’t work, it’s hard to (stay positive). But if you don’t win, you can’t change your effort. You can’t do that; that’s too easy. You have to find a way to keep with it no matter what happens.”

They’re trying. They’ve been trying for a while.

THE DEBRIEF

The difference for 51 minutes were the power plays. The Blackhawks made it 1-0 on their first advantage — a deflected shot by Duncan Keith — while the Canucks finished 0-for-3 despite significant pressure during a pair of second-period advantages. Blackhawks Dennis Rasmussen, Brandon Mashinter and Andrew Shaw added goals in the final 81Ž2 minutes while Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, poor in a 6-3 loss in Vancouver on Nov. 21, made 30 saves for the shutout.

KANE EXPRESS

NHL scoring leader Patrick Kane extended his points streak to 26 games with a cheapish second assist in the first period when he played the puck to the point four touches — two each by Duncan Keith and Artemi Panarin — before the Blackhawks scored. It’s the longest scoring streak since former Toronto Maple Leaf Mats Sundin had points in 30 straight games during the 1992-93 season.

BY THE NUMBERS

Chicago dominated on faceoffs, going 38-21, led by Jonathan Toews at 12-3. Adam Cracknell was 4-9 for the Canucks, and Henrik Sedin 6-12 ... Hits were 35-16 for Vancouver. Matt Bartkowski led everyone with six ... Canuck Radim Vrbata launched 10 shots, five of them on target ... Blackhawk Duncan Keith led all skaters with 26:06 of ice time ... Brandon Mashinter’s goal with 10 seconds remaining was the first in the NHL for the 27-year-old.

ROAD KILL

One of the best road teams in the NHL last season at 24-14-3, the Canucks have won only twice in their last 12 games outside Vancouver and are 6-6-5 for the season. They have been shut out three times in their last seven games, and have scored only three times in four road games. Canuck penalty killers have allowed 14 goals in 17 road games, and Vancouver is ranked 25th in the league playing short-handed away from home.

NEXT UP

The Canucks practise Monday in Minnesota before playing the Wild on Tuesday in the second of six games on this road trip. The Canucks won 3-2 in St. Paul on Nov. 25 and haven’t won in four road games since (0-2-2). Vancouver was 1-2 against Minnesota last season.

----

CLICK HERE to view more photos or if you are on a mobile app, tap the photo and swipe

----

imacintyre@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/imacvansun

===

Click here to report a typo or visit vancouversun.com/typo.

Is there more to this story? We'd like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. CLICK HERE or go to vancouversun.com/moretothestory

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates past Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega (55) and defenseman Matt Bartkowski (44) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
 

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates past Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega (55) and defenseman Matt Bartkowski (44) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.

Photograph by: Andrew Nelles, AP

 
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) skates past Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Biega (55) and defenseman Matt Bartkowski (44) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Vancouver defenceman Yannick Weber tries to prevent Dennis Rasmussen of the Blackhawks from getting a quality scoring chance on Canucks netminder Ryan Miller during Sunday’s NHL action at the United Center in Chicago. The Blackhawks defeated the visitors 4-0, scoring two late goals into an empty net.
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) and Vancouver Canucks defenseman Matt Bartkowski (44) collide during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Chicago Blackhawks center Dennis Rasmussen (70) celebrates his goal past Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller (30) with teammates Andrew Shaw (65) and Bryan Bickell (29) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. Chicago won 4-0.
Vancouver Canucks right wing Radim Vrbata (17) advances against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Chicago Blackhawks center Dennis Rasmussen (70) scores past Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller (30) with left wing Bryan Bickell (29) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. Chicago won 4-0.
Vancouver Canucks center Henrik Sedin (33) passes past Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller (30) makes a save on a Chicago Blackhawks shot during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) celebrates scoring a goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Andrew Shaw (65) battles Vancouver Canucks defenseman Yannick Weber (6) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks left wing Chris Higgins (20) passes past Chicago Blackhawks center Teuvo Teravainen (86) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller (30) and defenseman Yannick Weber (6) defend against a shot from Chicago Blackhawks center Dennis Rasmussen (70) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks right wing Alex Burrows (14) battles with Chicago Blackhawks center Teuvo Teravainen (86) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Andrew Shaw (65) chases the puck with Vancouver Canucks defenseman Ben Hutton (27) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Matt Bartkowski (44) secures the puck as right wing Jannik Hansen (36) and Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) collide during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Vancouver Canucks left wing Chris Higgins (20) loses his stick next to Chicago Blackhawks left wing Bryan Bickell (29) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) battles Vancouver Canucks right wing Derek Dorsett (15) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015.
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford (50) defends against Vancouver Canucks right wing Derek Dorsett (15) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. Chicago won 4-0.
Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller (30) defends against Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (72) during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Chicago, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015. Chicago won 4-0.
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice