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Game 55: Sombre send-off

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks went into Wednesday's tilt hoping a clash against a long-time rival would help spark them to a slump-busting win. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks had the same idea in mind.

The Blackhawks, who came into the contest riding a season-high four-game winless streak, got goals from Marian Hossa, Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp in successive fashion in the second period to erase a 2-0 deficit and propel them to an eventual 5-2 win over the Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Chris Higgins and Tom Sestito scored for the Canucks, who finished 1-3-0 on their four-game home stand while collecting just two of a possible eight points.

Playing their final home game before the Olympic break, the Canucks couldn't have asked for a better start on Wednesday opening the scoring just 16 seconds into the contest with Higgins beating Blackhawks' netminder Corey Crawford with a backhand shot from in tight after some nice forechecking pressure by his line forced a turnover.

When Sestito doubled the Canucks' lead at 2:44 of the second period, it looked like the home team was well on their way to sending their fans home happy especially with Roberto Luongo standing tall in net to that point.

That positive feeling would not last long though.

After Hossa's power play marker at 6:30 of the second period got Chicago back within a goal, the Blackhawks would turn the game completely upside down striking twice in a span of 1:08 around the midway mark of the frame courtesy of goals from Saad and Toews to give them their first lead of the night and one they would not relinquish.

Sharp would add an insurance marker with just less than six minutes left in the middle stanza beating Luongo with an innocuous-looking wrist shot through traffic from the left faceoff circle. Saad would add his second of the night into an empty net for good measure in the dying seconds of regulation.

Luongo would finish the night making 35 saves on 39 shots in the defeat.

Crawford turned aside 28 of 30 shots in the victory for the Chicago, who also captured the season series against Vancouver with their victory.

The Canucks kick off a five-game road trip leading into the Olympic break on Friday when they head to Winnipeg to battle the Jets.

The Canucks finished 0-for-3 on the man-advantage and now have just one power play goal in their last seven outings (1-for-28)... The Canucks dominated in the faceoff circle winning 63 percent of the draws. Jordan Schroeder (8-for-17) was the only Canuck not to finish 50 percent-or-better in the faceoff dot... Daniel Sedin's point drought extended to four games. He has one assist in his last nine outings and no goals in his last 14 outings... Alex Burrows' point drought has now reached 14 games and his goal drought is up to 28 games... Christopher Tanev missed his first game of the season with an upper-body injury. He is listed as day-to-day.

BACK ON TOP: The Blackhawks have had their fair share of playoff series successes against the Canucks in the last few years but it's been a while since they've enjoyed a regular season series victory over Vancouver – that is until tonight when their victory also clinched the season series in their favour. Prior to this season, the Blackhawks had not beaten the Canucks in a season series since 2001.02. In the 10 regular season series prior to this year, the Canucks had been victorious in seven of them while the other three ended in ties.

OLYMPIC HEROES: The Canucks held a special pre-game ceremony on Wednesday honouring the players that will be headed to Sochi to compete in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in a couple of weeks, including 15 of them between the Canucks and Blackhawks that skated in Wednesday's contest. The ceremony, which featured 2010 Olympic gold medalists Tessa Bonhomme and Scott Niedermayer dropping the puck in the ceremonial faceoff, also saw the raising of a new banner at Rogers Arena commemorating the Olympic gold medals won by the Men's and Women's hockey teams at the 2010 Olympic Games.

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