A few days off after a couple ugly losses and the Blackhawks respond with… more of the same.
The Blackhawks returned from the Christmas break with a couple new faces in the lineup and one significant piece missing. Anton Forsberg was between the pipes with Corey Crawford on IR and David Kampf, who was recalled on Wednesday, was in the lineup. Richard Panik and Vinnie Hinostroza took a seat on Thursday.
Five minutes into the game, Gustav Forsling headed to the penalty box. Chicago was able to kill the Forsling penalty, longtime Blackhawks nemesis Sam Gagner scored three seconds after Forsling left the box to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
At 7:58 into the first, Thomas Vanek was caught slashing Artem Anisimov. Chicago failed to score on the power play (little surprise there) but the bigger news was the status of Anisimov, who left the bench and did not return to the game. Anisimov had skated 3:05 and won two of three faceoffs at that point.
In the wake of Anisimov leaving the lineup, we saw a fair amount of Alex DeBrincat with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane on the second line.
Chicago got a second power play opportunity at 11:02 when Henrik Sedin hooked Brandon Saad. This time, the Hawks would (holds breath) score on the advantage (runs out, buys Powerball tickets) and tie the game. Nick Schmaltz picked up his seventh of the year.
The Hawks out-shot the Canucks 14-13 in the first period as both goaltenders had a solid start to the game. But the scoreboard had the score tied headed to the second.
At 7:52 into the second – almost the same time that Anisimov was injured into the first – Alex Biega took a run at Connor Murphy and provided a textbook case of boarding.
— Juliana Nikac (@juliananikac) December 29, 2017
Lance Bouma rightfully took exception and jumped Biega. Bouma and Biega received offsetting roughing minors and, somehow, Biega received only a two-minute minor penalty for boarding.
Vancouver killed the Biega penalty (served by Jake Virtanen) but less than 30 seconds after that penalty ended Daniel Sedin took his turn in the box after he tripped Ryan Hartman.
Vanek got the lead back for the Canucks 13 minutes into the second, scoring his 11th of the year and picking up his second point of the evening.
The second period ended with the Blackhawks 1-5 on the power play, holding a 23-20 shot advantage and trailing 2-1 on the scoreboard.
Gagner came back and beat the Blackhawks yet again, extending the Canucks lead to 3-1 with his second of the night 90 seconds into the third period.
Sam Gagner now has 13 goals and 15 assists in 33 games against the Blackhawks.
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) December 29, 2017
Gagner was up to three points on the night, almost half-way to his eight-point night from Feb. 2, 2012 when he was with the Oilers.
At 16:29 it was Vanek getting back in the scoring swing with his second of the night to extend the lead to 4-1. Brock Boeser had assists on the Canucks’ final three goals as Vanek picked up his fourth point of the night.
Boeser didn’t want to get left completely out of the scoring fun, so he added his 21st goal of the season with 85 seconds left in regulation to push the lead to 5-1. Vanek added an assist, giving him five points in the game, tying his career high. The four points tie the career high for Boeser as well.
Ryan Hartman scored with 8.6 seconds left in regulation to make the final score 5-2.
John Hayden led the Blackhawks with four hits; he also had one assist. Brent Seabrook led the Hawks with three blocked shots. Kane, DeBrincat and Duncan Keith also had assists.
Kampf won six of 11 faceoffs and skated 13:50 in his NHL debut. Jonathan Toews won 12 of 23 at the dot.