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Canucks power past Blackhawks

by Janelle Kidd / Vancouver Canucks

Connecting for five power play goals the Canucks hit their stride against the rival Chicago squad

There’s nothing like a decisive victory at the United Center to boost the Canucks confidence and put them back on the winning track. Opening the season series against the Blackhawks, Vancouver’s special teams were uncontainable, registering five power play goals in the 6-2 victory.

David Booth, Aaron Rome, Daniel Sedin, Dan Hamhuis, and Henrik Sedin all tallied power play goals, the twins combined for seven points, and Roberto Luongo turned away 38 shots, posting a .950 save percentage in the solid outing.

Feeding off three years worth of post-season match-ups, the rivalry remains one of the fiercest in the Western Conference and picked up right where it left off. Sunday’s afternoon game in Chicago was the first meeting for the clubs since last year’s playoffs when the Canucks ousted Chicago from the playoffs with 2-1 OT win in game seven of round one.

The opening puck drop was met with playoff intensity, the Blackhawks seeking revenge and the Canucks more than anything looking to halt their two-game losing slump.

Vancouver struck first, as Booth roofed his own rebound past Corey Crawford on the power play six minutes into the game. Booth’s first goal of the season gave the Canucks the start they were hoping for.

The high energy, high tempo play continued with both teams pressuring. Chicago managed to tie it up at 12:57 in the first when a far out shot from Michael Frolik squeaked past Luongo. The Canucks netminder didn’t let the soft goal shake him.

“We did [set the tone early], we got out there and took it to them, we played in their end, got pucks to the net and good things happened,” said Aaron Rome. “They got an unfortunate one in the first period, but we battled through it and played hard.”

In the second, the Canucks penalty kill continued to shut down Chicago’s stars and their power play kicked into high gear. Vancouver scored four goals in the middle frame, three on the man advantage.

Five minutes into the second, Rome and Daniel had both capitalized on the power play to put Vancouver up 3-1. Though Chicago pulled within one, Jannik Hansen quickly responded burying a rebound into an open net to reestablish the two-goal lead. Hamhuis’ power play marker closed out the second.

“We always talk about the importance of winning the special teams battles,” said Manny Malhotra. “Power plays have done an incredible job tonight, not only scoring goals but maintaining possession and getting a lot of momentum for us. And on the other end, the PK, we’ve blocked shots, we’ve kept them to the parameter and again gained momentum from that aspect.”

A power play goal from Henrik mid-way through the third put the game officially out of reach. With textbook execution Vancouver made Chicago pay nearly every time they made a trip to the box, finishing the game 5 for 6 on the power play.

Success at the United Center hasn’t always come easily to the Canucks, who were facing a Blackhawks team that is sitting atop the Western Conference. But Vancouver sent their special teams to work, securing the early lead and never relenting.

Past the halfway mark of their six-game road trip, the Canucks have battled back to 2-2-0, and now look to rest up with a three day break before the final leg of the trip takes them through California for matches against the Kings and Ducks.

A Night of Firsts

Having spent his entire NHL career in the Sunshine State, David Booth has been acclimatizing to the Vancouver’s hockey-mad market, and that includes embracing the city’s rivalries as his own.

Inheriting a role in one of the Western Conference’s fiercest rivalry, Booth wasted no time making his mark by burying his first goal in a Vancouver jersey in the opening period to give the visiting team an early lead.

Actually his first of the season, the goal was a relief for Booth who has been looking to lend his talent to Vancouver’s offensive forces. Heading into tonight’s game Booth, who joined the Canucks on October 22 in a trade from the Florida Panthers, had three assists this season - two as a Canuck.

Another first came from the blueline, courtesy of Aaron Rome. Making his first appearance this season, Rome returned the lineup after a hand injury kept him sidelined, and scored his first goal of the season.

The goal was Rome’s second as a Canuck, his previous goal came in the form of an empty netter on March 29, 2011, when Vancouver defeated the Predators 3-1 to clinch the Western Conference title.

A United Effort

Fired up and icing a solid 60-minutes, the win was a true team effort with everyone getting in on the action.

In total, nine Vancouver players tallied points, six of them hitting the the scoresheet more than once.

Henrik led the charge with a goal and three helpers, followed by Daniel who registered two assists and a goal, which was his 97th power play goal and ties him with Trevor Linden for third in all-time goals on the man advantage.

Also tallying points were Cody Hodgson and Alexander Edler both with two assists, Hamhuis and Booth with a goal and an assist each, Higgins with an assist, and Rome and Hansen each with a goal.

And let’s not forget about Luongo, who has seen his share of less than stellar games at the United Center, but stood tall in net facing 40 shots and several quality scoring chances from Chicago’s top offensive players.

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