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Game 38: Excellent Eddie

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
Eddie Lack has played a lot of hockey in Chicago over the last couple of years but it's safe to say he hasn't had as big a victory in the Windy City as the one he collected on Friday.

In fact, he probably hasn't had as magnificent a performance in this city as the one he turned in tonight either.

The former backstop for the AHL's Chicago Wolves stopped 24 of 26 shots he faced through regulation and overtime and turned aside seven of eight shootout attempts to lift the Canucks to an improbable 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Blackhawks.

Ryan Kesler's goal in the eighth round proved to be the game-deciding goal as the Canucks snapped their mini two-game winless skid and concluded their three-game road trip with a 1-1-1 record. Vancouver also improved to 3-0-3 in their last six regular season visits to the United Center.

After a sluggish start proved costly in a loss to Dallas the night before, the Canucks didn't seem to learn any lessons from that early on as the Blackhawks took it to Vancouver in the early going out-shooting them 10-3 in the first period and out-scoring them 1-0 courtesy of a Kris Versteeg marker.

It certainly didn't look like things were shaping up to be the Canucks' night when Patrick Kane made it 2-0 for the Blackhawks less than five minutes into the second period against the flow of the play but Vancouver would pull within one just before the midway mark of the period courtesy of a Zack Kassian marker.

The Canucks would complete the comeback and set the stage for Kesler's and Lack's shootout heroics after Daniel Sedin was able to corral a deflected Kevin Bieksa shot off his skate and roof the puck on Blackhawks' netminder Antti Raanta to square the affair with just over nine minutes left in regulation.

Raanta would finish the night with 22 saves on 24 shots in the loss.

The Canucks return home on Sunday to host the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday before breaking for the holidays.

You don't lead the NHL in wins as the Blackhawks do by making it a habit of blowing multi-goal leads but this wasn't the first time this season that Chicago has squandered a two-goal lead. Tonight was the second time they've given up a two-goal lead to lose. They dropped a similar 3-2 shootout decision to Tampa Bay back on October 5 after leading that game 2-0. Overall, this is the fourth time that a Blackhawks' opponent has walked away with points despite trailing by two goals.

HOMECOMINGS: Eddie Lack wasn't the only Canuck making a homecoming of sorts in this game as both Zack Kassian and Christopher Tanev also spent a good chunk of the previous two seasons as members of the Chicago Wolves. Kassian finished the contest with a goal which snapped a three-game point drought, while Tanev had one shot and three blocked shots in 23:45 of ice-time.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU: Speaking of Tanev, the cool-as-ice blue-liner celebrated his 24th birthday on Friday. Among the people he shares a birthday with include current Montreal Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov, New York Rangers forward Derek Dorsett, and Utica Comets head coach Travis Green.

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