The Vancouver Canucks didn’t dwell on their previous home outings against the Chicago Blackhawks from the past few seasons and that served the team well in a gritty 4-3 comeback Canucks win, their fifth consecutive victory, Friday night at Rogers Arena.
The focus was on the task at hand, collecting two points against a heated Western Conference rival, and that mission was accomplished – with emphasis.
Daniel Sedin scored the game-winner with four minutes remaining in the third period to complete a Canucks comeback that saw them erase multiple single-goal leads to extend their home regulation unbeaten streak to 14 games (10-0-4) to open a four-game homestand.
Christian Ehrhoff, Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin also scored for Vancouver in the season-series finale versus Chicago, while Jonathan Toews, Nick Boynton and Dave Bolland managed to beat Roberto Luongo, who was spectacular on the night stopping 42 shots for his 25th win of the year, tying him for first overall in wins with five other netminders.
When the Canucks were off their game early and the Blackhawks took control, it was Luongo shutting the door to make Vancouver’s second win when trailing after two periods possible.
“It’s nice to get the win,” said Luongo, currently riding a four-game winning streak with only five goals against on 121 shots. “It was a pretty intense game, playoff-like atmosphere and we scored some big goals in the third period, especially after they got the lead.
“I’ve just been feeling good, trying to do my job. A couple of bad breaks tonight but that’s the way things have been going lately, sometimes you get bad breaks but you find ways to win and that’s nice to be able to get a win even when things are not going your way.”
The Canucks led 1-0 off Ehrhoff’s 10th goal of the season, but gave up back-to-back Blackhawks scores before the midway point of the second period to trail 2-1.
Samuelsson evened the game at 2-2 with a late power play goal to end the second frame before Chicago reclaimed the lead 7:47 into the third.
The Sedins, quiet to that point with Henrik picking up the only point for the twins, then went to the work on the power play and some great passing led to Henrik Sedin one-timing a shot past Marty Turco.
Then it was Henrik’s turn to return to the favour to Daniel as he set up his brother for a shot from just outside the crease that flipped off Bolland and in.
This was anything but a normal game for the Canucks and the confidence boost they gained from the win reflects that.
“It was nice to come back against a good team,” said Henrik, “we were down 3-2 with 10 minutes to go and to be able to come back and win, that’s huge for our confidence.”
Added Daniel, “It was good for our confidence, especially against this team, we’ve had some problems against them, but I think it was a good approach to the game today, we approached it like a normal game and we came up with the win, so that’s huge.”
With two points against the Blackhawks, Daniel passed Steven Stamkos to become the NHL’s league leader in points with 69.
With the Canucks lacking depth on defence because of injuries, one prospect made a good case for himself to be called up from the farm.
Defenceman Sami Salo scored twice, including the game-winner, in a 3-2 Manitoba Moose win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Friday night; the goals were the first of his AHL career and they came in his first AHL game – that’s some debut.
Salo’s play caught the attention of a few Canucks, including goaltender Cory Schneider.
“I heard he’s got a big shot, first game and he scores two goals, he’s clearly bringing something special from the backend and hopefully if he does it for a few more games he’ll have a spot up here and we’ll call him up.”
While a call-up the big club could certainly be in the cards for Salo, Schneider, a former member of the Moose, cautions against rushing into things with such a green prospect.
“One game doesn’t make a career, but it’s a good start and I think he can build off of it, get some confidence down there and hopefully just bring that here when he comes up.”
Henrik Sedin appeared in his 781st career game Friday moving him into a tie with Harold Snepsts for fourth on Vancouver’s all-time games played list; Aaron Rome returned to action for the first time after missing eight games with a knee injury, he replaced Lee Sweatt on the blueline; Cody Hodgson assisted on Christian Ehrhoff’s game-opening goal for his first career NHL assist; the Canucks are 5-2-2 when appearing on TSN this season.