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Blackhawks rally in third, edge Canucks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- The Chicago Blackhawks know better than most how quickly a game can turn.

Chicago shocked the Boston Bruins and won the Stanley Cup in June by scoring two goals in 17 seconds.

The NHL's leading offense needed all of nine seconds to beat the struggling Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night.

Andrew Shaw tied the game on a redirection 4:40 into the third period, and Marcus Kruger put the Blackhawks ahead on a 2-on-1 break nine seconds later en route to a 2-1 victory against the Canucks at Rogers Arena.

"It can turn around pretty quick if we get some chances," said Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who secured the win with 14 of his 36 saves in the third period. "Especially the opportunities we got. They were A-plus chances, and usually we bury those."

Vancouver led on Ryan Kesler's 5-on-3 goal late in the first period and had just killed off a Chicago power play that included Patrick Sharp hitting both posts and the crossbar when Shaw tipped Patrick Kane's backhand shot between the legs of Roberto Luongo from the top of the crease. A miscue on the ensuing faceoff led to a 2-on-1 and Kruger kept the puck, firing it through a stunned Luongo.

"Obviously the past year we have had a lot of goals scored back-to-back quickly," Shaw said. "We stuck to it all game and it just took nine seconds, I guess."

Crawford made several great stops after taking the lead, and Kane extended his point streak to 10 games. The Blackhawks won for the seventh time in nine games despite missing top-line forward Marian Hossa, who returned to Chicago earlier in the day to attend to a family matter.

"We haven't played a low-scoring, tight game like that in a couple of weeks, but I've said before we are never out of a game," Crawford said. "We can all score goals so everyone in this room was confident we would get one, and then that was a good break to get that 2-on-1 and a nice goal by (Kruger) to get the winner there."

It didn't quite compare to the 17-second, Cup-clinching outburst, though.

"No," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said with a smile.

But it was a positive sign for a Chicago team that struggled to defend at times lately, giving up seven goals in a loss to the Nashville Predators on Nov. 16 and five in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche four days ago. Crawford was pulled from both games, but was perfect after Kesler's goal and made a couple of great saves late to preserve the lead. He threw out the left pad to deny Dale Weise from the top of the crease midway through, and gloved Brad Richardson's dangerous shot with five minutes left.

"I love the way he played," Quenneville said. "It was nice to see him really strong in the net. They had a lot of bodies and shots and traffic when the game was on the line and I liked his response."

In a battle of Canadian Olympic hopefuls, and the NHL's two busiest goaltenders, Luongo and Crawford were both good.

Luongo, starting on consecutive nights for the first time in two years after making 14 saves in a 6-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday, finished with 27 saves. But he was upset Kruger's shot from the faceoff dot went past him.

"I've got to come up on a save on that one," Luongo said.

The win against Columbus is Vancouver's lone victory in the past six games (1-4-2), and the only time the offense has broken out. The Canucks have scored seven goals in the six losses. Their only one against Chicago came courtesy of a two-man advantage.

"We have to put pucks away," said captain Henrik Sedin, who had his stick checked while facing an empty net on a rebound attempt in the third period. "It can't just be one game and then you're off again."

It's the 10th time in 25 games Vancouver has scored one goal. The Canucks are 12-0-1 when scoring three or more, but 0-9-3 when scoring two or fewer.

For all the focus on the missing offense, Luongo said the Canucks need to find ways to win those low-scoring games.

"We have to learn how to win some games 1-0, 2-1," he said. "That's the way the League is right now. We can't just focus on the offense."

Ironically, Chicago captain Jonathan Toews was saying the same thing in the Blackhawks' dressing room.

"We've got a lot of offensive talent, but we have to remind ourselves when we play that team that we have to smarten up defensively," Toews said. "(Crawford) was huge for us."

He had little chance on Kesler's goal.

With Brandon Saad already off for slashing, Shaw was called for interference on a shorthanded rush when he bumped Henrik Sedin, who was trying to catch up to the potential 2-on-1.

Vancouver wasted little time converting its second 5-on-3 opportunity of the season, with Kesler feeding Jason Garrison for a one-timer at the point and then sliding the rebound through the legs of a sliding Crawford to end his seven-game goal drought.

It stayed that way until shortly after Chicago's second power play, which produced several great chances, and led to the tying goal 10 seconds after the advantage ended.

"We beat ourselves, and teams like Chicago will capitalize," Canucks coach John Tortorella said. "We kill a penalty, we get our guy on the ice and we throw the puck away [and it] ends up in our net. We run how we forecheck off a faceoff every time, [but] we decide to go off the map and we give up an odd-man rush [and] it's in our net. We played a good hockey game, but we beat ourselves in those few seconds."

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