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Canucks move into tie with Chicago

by Brian Compton
If this was a first-round preview of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Chicago Blackhawks have some work to do.

With a chance to go four points ahead of the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference standings, the Blackhawks failed to get any of their 26 shots past Roberto Luongo and watched Daniel Sedin score twice and add an assist in a 4-0 loss to the Canucks at the United Center on Sunday night.

While the Blackhawks currently still sit in fourth due to the fact that they have a game in hand on the Canucks, both teams now have 91 points. The team that finishes fourth will have home-ice advantage in the first round.

''We couldn't have been pleased with how we played,'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. ''It was check, check, check and we didn't fight through it enough to generate anything.''

Vancouver looked awfully sharp considering it was playing the fifth of a six-game road trip. The win allowed the Canucks to move within a point of the Calgary Flames in the Northwest Division race, which will determine the No. 3 seed. Vancouver is 7-2-0 in its last nine and 11-3-1 in its last 15.

''We wanted to make sure we came in here with a goal in mind, and that was to get the win,'' Luongo said. ''We didn't give them a lot of room to make plays. That was key, especially with the speed their forwards have.''

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault raved about Daniel Sedin's line, which includes his twin brother Henrik and winger Alex Burrows. Including Sunday's performance, Daniel Sedin has four goals and four assists in his last four games. Henrik has three goals and six assists in that same span.

''That line was unbelievable on the ice,'' Vigneault said. ''Obviously they were our best players and Roberto was on top of his game tonight. That said, it was a pretty solid team effort all around. When we did make a mistake, Roberto bailed us out. When they made a mistake, we were able to capitalize.''

Three of Vancouver's four goals came at even strength as it went 1-for-9 on the power play. Daniel Sedin broke a scoreless tie just 3:22 into the game, when he was the recipient of a gorgeous pass from behind the net by his brother that he ripped past Nikolai Khabibulin for his 29th goal of the season.

Burrows made it 2-0 at 8:43 of the second period on his 26th tally. After finding a way to get around Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell, Burrows redirected Daniel Sedin's feed past Khabibulin.

''We came in as possible match-up in the playoffs and we wanted to show we could win in this building,'' Daniel Sedin said. ''Our defense did a tremendous job. They have a bunch of really skilled guys. You're never going to shut them down, but you can limit their chances. I think we did a good job of that.''

Vancouver put the game out of reach with two more tallies in the third. Daniel Sedin notched his second of the night at the 3:53 mark off yet another pretty pass from his brother. Ryan Kesler rounded out the scoring with his 24th goal of the season at 6:59 during a 5-on-3 advantage.

Chicago had a chance to end Luongo's bid with 5:41 remaining when Patrick Sharp was awarded a penalty shot, but the Canucks' captain answered the bell and secured his 45th career shutout.

''We had a bunch of shots, but didn't get enough quality chances,'' Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said.

Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.

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