Chicago needed something to go right. Having lost four straight, the Blackhawks were searching for answers in the middle of their five-game road trip.
After a pregame ceremony celebrating the Sedin brothers, the Blackhawks came out and did everything right in the first period. Except score.
The Hawks out-shot the Canucks 17-7 in the first period but trailed 1-0.
At 13:58 into the first Patrick Kane put the puck into the Vancouver net. However, Brandon Saad was in the blue paint and the official behidn the net immediately waived the goal off because he felt Saad had interfered with Vancouver netminder Jacob Markstrom.
Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton challenged the ruling on the ice. It was, at best, a 50-50 shot the call would be reversed and, with Chicago dominating the flow at that point, it wasn’t an ideal time to run the risk of losing the challenge. After a brief review, the call on the ice stood. Because the Hawks lost their challenge, they were charged a delay of game penalty.
Bo Horvat scored on the power play to give the Canucks the game’s first goal.
Adam Gaudette scored at 6:25 into the second period to extend the Canucks’ lead to two.
Fittingly, on a night the Canucks purposely chose the Blackhawks to be the opponent when they celebrated the Sedins, a couple fights broke out. The first was between Drake Caggiula and Tanner Pearson at 10:44 into the second. It was more of a junior high-caliber dance for a few seconds than a fight, but both skaters got five minutes for the effort.
But Chicago kept working hard without anything to show for the effort on the scoreboard. The Blackhawks had a 33-15 shot advantage after 40 minutes of play. Kane and Dominik Kubalik were credited with six shots on net each through two periods. But they weren’t able to beat Markstrom.
As the second period came to a close Zack Smith finished his final shift in the closing seconds and went straight to the room favoring what appeared to be his left arm. Before the third period began the Hawks announced Smith would not return because of a hand injury.
The Blackhawks power play was 0-3 through two periods. They got a fourth power play 88 seconds into the third period when Gaudette dropped the gloves with Connor Murphy. Both skaters for five for fighting but Gaudette earned an extra two minutes for slashing Murphy to provoke the fight.
With Smith out of the game, Ryan Carpenter was elevated to the first power play unit. In 55 games this season entering Wednesday night Carpenter had spent a total of 13:27 on the power play.
Surprise! The Blackhawks didn’t score on this power play, either.
The Hawks continued to dominate the shot totals as the game progressed but Markstom was feeling it.
Tyler Myers slashed Dylan Strome 12 minutes into the third period and Chicago got yet another power play. Which came and went without anything of substance. Five wasted power plays in the game. The Blackhawks were still chasing two with six minutes remaining in regulation.
With four minutes left in regulation the Blackhawks had already established a new season-high for shots on net as a team with 45. Markstrom was terrific; the Blackhawks were not. Chicago hadn’t made any of those 45 count.
Chicago pulled Corey Crawford with three minutes left in regulation for an extra attacker, desperately trying to find an answer for Markstom.
Chicago sent out Saad, Kane, Toews, DeBrincat, Keith and Gustafsson with Crawford on the bench.
With 2:09 left in regulation Brandon Sutter won a board battle and tried to clear the puck. He successfully did that – and found the empty net. The Canucks lead was up to three.
Nothing the Blackhawks did was beyond Markstrom on this night. He finished a terrific shutout performance with 49 saves and the Blackhawks losing streak reached five games.
Kane finished with a team-leading eight shots on net in 22:33. Kubalik was credited with seven shots on net in 17:47. Toews won 18 of 29 faceoffs and put five shots on net in 21:36. Those three Blackhawks accounted for the same number of shots on net – 20 – as the entire Canucks team on Wednesday night.
Kirby Dach took only one faceoff in 16:41 but was credited with three shots on net. The only Blackhawks forward not credited with a shot on net was Brandon Saad, who skated 18:12. Eight of Chicago’s 12 forwards were credited with at least three shots on net.
Crawford was good but not good enough, allowing two of the Canucks’ three goals.