The Canucks came into Sunday night with some history in their recent history as Henrik Sedin reached 1,000 career points earlier this week. But while the Blackhawks have struggled to generate consistent offense for some time, an early Sunday evening start against the Vancouver Canucks afforded Chicago an opportunity to get rolling.
After honoring Jeremy Roenick – one of the most prolific offensive threats in franchise history – the Hawks had their best first period in weeks. Chicago carried the action over the first 14 minutes, and were able to beat Ryan Miller at 14:27 as Richard Panik put home his 11th of the year.
Brian Campbell was credited with the primary assist on the play, giving him 500 career regular season points. He ranks third among all active blue liners.
The secondary assist on the Panik goal was awarded to Jonathan Toews, who tied Roenick for 13th in team history with 329 assists in the Indian head.
Three minutes after the Panik goal, Toews won a battle and a loose puck found Patrick Kane. Kane beat Ryan Miller for his 15th of the season and the Chicago lead was two.
With his second assist of the first period, Toews passed the honored Roenick into sole possession of 13th in team history with 330 assists.
The box score was the opposite of Friday night’s first period in Boston. Chicago out-shot Vancouver 18-9 in the first period without a power play, and scored twice in the frame. Corey Crawford was sharp when he needed to be, but his skated controlled the action.
Vancouver, predictably, came out with more bounce to start the second period. Half way through the second, the Canucks got the game’s first power play as Trevor van Riemsdyk went to the box. At the time of the penalty, the Hawks had only one shot on net in almost ten full minutes of the second period; Vancouver had only four shots on net before the advantage.
The Hawks killed the Vancouver power play and got one of their own at 13:22 when Alex Edler sat for two minutes. Chicago’s struggling power play did nothing with the advantage and the Hawks immediately went back to being short-handed as Duncan Keith hooked Edler as he came out of the box and nearly had a breakaway.
Tanner Kero had the first good chance on the ensuing Canucks power play, flying up the ice for a short-handed bid that was denied by Miller. The Canucks had a couple good looks but couldn’t beat Crawford, and Chicago killed another penalty successfully.
Chicago only put four shots on net in the second period while Vancouver was credited with eight, but the score held at 2-0 in favor of the hosts. Crawford was on point, making 17 saves through 40 minutes.
Five minutes into the third, Michal Kempny was sent off and the Canucks finally beat Crawford. Troy Stecher scored his second of the season ten seconds into the power play and the lead was cut to one.
Kempny left the box after the Stecher goal and was promptly beaten badly by a strong power move from Bo Horvat. Horvat put the puck between Kempny’s legs and got a shot on net that wasn’t cleanly controlled by Crawford. Horvat fought through Kempny and was able to tip the loose puck past Crawford.
Only 46 seconds later, the game was tied at two, and Kempny found himself stapled to the bench for the final 14 minutes of regulation.
In the closing two minutes, Toews took over. Again. With 78 seconds left in the third, Toews rifled a shot into the back of the net for the eventual game-winning goal.
Vancouver pulled Ryan Miller inside the final minute and Toews made another play. He saved an icing and found Marian Hossa for the wide open empty net to extend the lead to 4-2.
The final assist gave Toews a four-point night in only 16 minutes on the ice. He was also credited with two hits and one takeaway, but struggled against Brandon Sutter at the dot. Toews won only eight of 24 at the dot while Sutter won 18 of 21 for Vancouver.
Hossa’s goal gives him 400 regular season points as a member of the Blackhawks.
Brent Seabrook led the Hawks with four blocked shots and Vinnie Hinostroza led the Hawks with two takeaways. Three Blackhawks – Toews, Panik and Andrew Desjardins – led the way with two hits each.
Artem Anisimov won half of his 16 faceoffs and Crawford finished with 26 saves in his 200th career victory.
Chicago could get Marcus Kruger back on Tuesday night and has now won three in a row. The Lightning visit the UC on Tuesday night.