It won't make up for last spring's playoff loss, but Wednesday night's 3-2 victory at Chicago had to feel good for the Vancouver Canucks.
Five months after watching the Hawks and their fans celebrate after beating them in six games to win their Western Conference Semifinal series, the Canucks got to do the celebrating a few minutes after Mikael Samuelsson's goal with 4:42 left in regulation broke a 2-2 tie.
Chicago twice led by a goal before rookie Michael Grabner got his first NHL goal with 7:44 left in regulation, finishing off a feed from Ryan Kesler. Samuelsson's unassisted goal gave the Canucks their first lead of the game.
"It means a lot to the group, everybody knows we hadn't won on the road and this was a good win," Samuelsson said after Vancouver won its first road game in five tries. "We struggled a little bit, but once again we came back from their lead, so that was huge."
All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo wept after allowing seven goals in the Hawks' series-clincher last May. He was light years better -- and a lot happier -- this time, making several acrobatic stops among his 18 saves.
The pain of last May hasn't been erased, but Luongo said the win will help him and the team move on.
"Obviously, nothing's going to bring back what happened last year," Luongo said. "They still won the series; we just won a game. But it's nice to be able to come in here and show we can win and just start moving on.
"I was real excited to come back here and play even though there aren't such great memories of last year. I knew the team wasn't going to have a problem getting up for this one."
Vancouver outshot Chicago 31-20, making the Canucks the first team to outshoot the Hawks this season.
"It was really nice to finally win a game on the road and win against a team that sent us home a lot earlier than we wanted last year," defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "Everyone feels good right now."
The turning point may have come early in the third period with the Hawks leading 2-1, when Mitchell leveled Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews with a clean hit at center ice, right after Vancouver had killed Chicago's two-man advantage. Mitchell came out of the box and flattened Toews, who didn't play for the last 14 minutes.
"It was a clean hit," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He didn't see (Mitchell) coming." The Hawks said only that Toews sustained an "upper body" injury, with Quenneville adding: "We'll see how he is (Thursday)."
Grabner made it 2-2 with a power-play goal from the top of the left circle, getting his first career goal in his fourth NHL game.
After the Blackhawks killed off another power play, Samuelsson intercepted Brian Campbell's pass toward Patrick Kane in the Chicago zone, skated into the left circle and snapped a wrist shot that beat Antti Niemi low to the far side.
Samuelsson, who also assisted on Steve Bernier's first-period goal, has 20 points in 25 career games against the Blackhawks.
"They made a turnover, and I took a whack at it and I got lucky," Samuelsson said. "When you play on this ice, late in the periods, you've got to stay with the puck because you don't know when it's bouncing. You never know when you're going to get chances like that."
Duncan Keith put Chicago ahead at 13:26 of the opening period, beating Luongo with a long shot through traffic. Steve Bernier rammed home a rebound 46 seconds into the middle period, but Keith set up Troy Brouwer at 18:31 of the second period to put Chicago ahead 2-1.
Niemi, starting in place of struggling starter Cristobal Huet, played well and finished with 28 saves but couldn't survive some sloppy play in front of him.
"Niemi played great tonight and kept us in the game," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "We shouldn't be allowing that many shots."
--John Kreiser, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
|Duncan Keith (3) ASST: Cam Barker (3), John Madden (2)|
1 - 0 CHI
|PPG - Steve Bernier (3) ASST: Alexandre Burrows (3), Mikael Samuelsson (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Troy Brouwer (2) ASST: Duncan Keith (4), Patrick Kane (5)|
2 - 1 CHI
|PPG - Michael Grabner (1) ASST: Ryan Kesler (5), Alexander Edler (4)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Mikael Samuelsson (5) ASST: NONE|
3 - 2 VAN
|Power Play %||19.8%||21.5%|
|% on Road||16.7%||25.0%|
|% at Home||24.3%||18.6%|
|Aaron Rome Roughing against Colin Fraser|
|Dustin Byfuglien Roughing against Henrik Sedin|
|Mikael Samuelsson Holding against Patrick Kane|
|Duncan Keith Tripping against Henrik Sedin|
|Shane O'Brien Interference against Dustin Byfuglien|
|Willie Mitchell Hooking against Patrick Kane|
|Willie Mitchell Roughing against Kris Versteeg|
|Kris Versteeg Roughing against Willie Mitchell|
|Kris Versteeg Roughing against Willie Mitchell|
|Dustin Byfuglien Hi stick - double minor against Kevin Bieksa|
|Cam Barker Hooking against Mason Raymond|