You want to know what happened in the Canucks game and you want to know now. We get it. Here’s the bare bones recap of Vancouver’s 5-1 win over Chicago.
…32 seconds after Jonathan Toews cut Vancouver’s lead to 3-1 early in the third period, Henrik Sedin restored the homeside’s three-goal cushion with his career-high 23rd score of the season en route to a 5-1 Canucks win.
Undermanned but not overwhelmed, the Canucks made an effort to own the first period and make life tough on the Blackhawks early and they accomplished that by scoring three times in the opening 20 minutes.
Mikael Samuelsson, Henrik and Steve Bernier all beat Chicago’s Antti Niemi before he was replaced with Cristobal Huet to start the second. Eight different Canucks were on the scoreboard after the first as Vancouver came at Chicago from all angles.
Roberto Luongo stopped 12 shots in the first and he carried that momentum into a 14 save second period. The Toews goal was Luongo’s only blunder, but it awoke the Canucks as they came back with a pair of scores, one going to each Sedin. Luongo finished with 43 saves overall.
The win is Vancouver’s fourth straight and 31st of the season moving the team into a share of first place in the Northwest Division alongside the Colorado Avalanche.
With Vancouver blueliners Willie Mitchell, Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa all out of the line-up because of injury, a major concern coming into the contest was who was going to step up on defence.
Turns out Roberto Luongo didn’t even need any defenders on this night.
Luongo put forth his best performance since blanking the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 on January 7 with a season-high 43 saves, including the mother of all rip roarin’ gloves stops on Cam Barker with 12:43 to play in the third.
On a scrambled play, Luongo found himself down but not out, yet without a stick, as Chicago worked the puck around to point man Barker. Luongo saw just enough of what was coming to get his mitt ready for a snag that brought the GM Place sellout to its feet.
While much of the credit for holding the third highest-scoring team in the league to only one goal goes to Luongo, the soldiers in front of him also put on quite a show.
Aaron Rome, Brad Lukowich and Nolan Baumgartner filled in admirably for Mitchell, Salo and Bieksa; their styles certainly differed but the end result was exactly what Vancouver was striving for.
Christian Ehrhoff, Alex Edler and Shane O’Brien carried the bulk of minutes in all situations with each player over 22 (Ehrhoff and Edler surpassed 25 for the second straight game). Although the Blackhawks had a field day as far as shots are concerned, not a lot of zingers got through on goal, most were fro the outside as the Canucks defenders made life a little easier on Luongo.
Vancouver’s big three just keeps on rolling as Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows combined for another nine points, giving them 25 in the last four games.
Each skater had three points against the Blackhawks, led by Hank’s two goals and a helper, and each extended their points streak. The Sedins have now found the scoresheet in four consecutive contests, while Burrows has gone 11 straight with at least a single point.
Henrik is currently four points ahead of Alex Ovechkin in the NHL scoring race.
Coach Alain Vigneault on weathering the storm early and Henrik’s second goal that put Vancouver up 4-1 in the third period:
”That’s an excellent hockey team on the other side and tonight things fell in place for us as far as we killed off a big O’Brien penalty right off the bat and I thought that gave us confidence. Roberto made a couple of nice saves and then we were able to capitalize on a goaltender that was obviously off his game.
”In my mind the other turning point in that game was when they did make it 3-1 in the third and they were coming along real hard, the next shift right after Hank’s line goes out and scores a huge goal that sort of took the whole possible momentum that they could have.”
Sunday is a practice day for the Canucks, they’ll head out to 8-Rinks in Burnaby to skate as Motley Crew invades GM Place.
The Canucks are then right back at it on Monday with the Buffalo Sabres making a rare trip out West. The Northeast leading Sabres last came to town on January 17, 2006, with the Canucks handing them a 4-1 loss thanks to goals from Burrows, Baumgartner, Brendan Morrison and Jarrko Ruutu – yeah, it’s been a while.