It only took 37 seconds for the gloves to drop, and the penalties kept coming all night but the Blackhawks handled their business with a stunning 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.
The Blackhawks ran a clearly frustrated Roberto Luongo after only one period by scoring five goals in the first 20 minutes and Vancouver was never able to get into the game. With their win, the Hawks stay tied for the Western Conference lead with the San Jose Sharks and move within three points of the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the NHL.
Despite being shut down for a full two-minute, two-man advantage after two fights broke out less than a minute into the game, it didn’t take long for the Hawks to get on the board. Andrew Ladd, who was involved in the first altercation of the evening with crybaby Ryan Kesler, scored his 12th goal of the year just 3:48 into the game to give the Blackhawks the lead. Seven minutes, six penalties and two fights later, Duncan Keith scored his 12th goal of the season on a power play to extend the lead. The flood gates were now open, and Luongo’s leash was shrinking.
Troy Brouwer scored his 19th goal of the year only 31 seconds after Keith’s, and the route was on. Kesler made a pretty play, shooting the puck between Keith and Cristobal Huet’s legs to get Vancouver on the board, but Kris Versteeg got off the schnide with his first goal (and only his third point) in his last 16 games. When Jordan Hendry added his first of the season with only 43 seconds left in the period, Luongo looked like he needed a shower. The Blackhawks five goals came on only 14 shots.
Andrew Raycroft replaced Luongo after the first period and would allow two goals on only ten shots in the final two periods. Alex Burrows tried to help Raycroft out by scoring the first goal of the second period and drawing the Canucks to within 5-2, but Marian Hossa made sure the hopes of the visitors were short-lived when he put in his 19th at 16:55.
Tanner Glass had an impressive night for Vancouver, being whistled for five penalties, all for separate offenses. His nine penalty minutes led the way in the game, as Ben Eager and Vancouver’s Andrew Alberts would also serve seven minutes in the box. In total, 18 penalties were called on Friday night. The Blackhawks took advantage of a man-advantage situation on Keith’s goal in the first, but ended the night just 1-7 on the power play; Vancouver was 0-4 on the night.
Hossa, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews all continued their hot scoring streak after the Olympics on Friday night. Kane had one assist, Toews two assists and Hossa one assist and one goal to lead a balanced offense for the Blackhawks. Jordan Hendry, the game’s Number One Star, had one goal and one assist. Also being credited with assists on Friday night were Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Kim Johnsson and Patrick Sharp.
Huet’s raw numbers weren’t spectacular (three goals allowed on only 23 shots) but he made a number of spectacular saves early on and, for the most part, controlled the puck in traffic when needed. Once the lead was established in the first period, the action spread out and Huet only faced 12 shots in the final two frames.