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Hansen's hat trick leads Canucks past Blackhawks

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER -- The Vancouver Canucks started Sunday by celebrating one of their best offensive players ever. By the end of it, the loudest cheers were for the fourth line.

After honoring Daniel Sedin's 1,000th game in a pre-game ceremony, right wing Jannik Hansen completed his first career hat trick into an empty net with 42.1 seconds left to lead the Canucks to a 4-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Arena.

"We strive this year to make it a four-line team," Hansen said. "It's not a matter of one, two, three, four. Everyone knows the twins [Daniel and Henrik Sedin] are going to get their matchup every night. After that it's up to the nine other guys to supply the secondary scoring. As long as we can do that we've got a chance to win games."

Hansen opened the scoring with 7:47 left in the first period and put the Canucks ahead again 6:24 into the third with his fourth goal in the past three games. Linemates Derek Dorsett had two assists and 19-year-old rookie Bo Horvat had three to help the Canucks bounce back from an overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.

Horvat, playing his eighth NHL game, started the play on the winning goal by winning a faceoff in his own zone against Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. Dorsett then won a race to his dump-in into the corner and threw the puck into the slot, where a streaking Hansen tipped it past Corey Crawford's glove.

"Believe it or not that's my idol," Horvat said of Toews. "That's the guy I wanted to model my game after and that's the guy I watched growing up playing in the NHL. To take a faceoff against him a couple times and to be on the same sheet of ice as him, it's pretty cool."

Toews was less excited after Chicago had its three-game win streak snapped as they hit the halfway point of their six-game "Circus trip."

"We just didn't take control of the game," Toews said. "We let them move the puck side to side across the ice and get their rush game going too easy. Pucks were just going through us everywhere. We weren't checking well. We made their puck possession game easy."

Kris Versteeg scored on the power play and Crawford made 26 saves after being pressed into action on consecutive nights because of an illness to backup Antti Raanta, who was unable to make his start in a 7-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Toews wasn't interested in excuses, but Patrick Kane pointed to playing back-to-back against a team motivate by Sedin's milestone.

"Things unraveled pretty quickly but back-to-back games, they were waiting for us, they were ready, a lot of motivation for this one," Kane said. "Not to make excuses, but we were in the game."

Radim Vrbata ended any comeback thoughts by making it 3-1 on a rebound with 2:24 left in the period, setting the stage for the speedy Hansen to finish off his hat trick after winning a race for a loose puck.

"It's been a while," Hansen said of his last hat trick. "I think it was back when I was playing in Denmark. It's extremely nice to get it, but it's not one of those things I have on my bucket list."

Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, who was eliminated by Chicago in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season while playing for the St. Louis Blues, made 24 saves for his 13th win of the season.

But the focus after the game wasn't on Miller's revenge or Daniel Sedin's milestone. It was all about the Canucks' fourth line, which is benefitting from the approach of new coach Willie Desjardins.

It paid off against a Blackhawks team that came in having allowed eight third-period goals all season, the fewest in the NHL.

"We rolled four lines, we're fresh," Daniel Sedin said. "We do all the little things you have to do to be successful. Everyone is buying in. It's a lot of fun when you can do that. No one feels the pressure to score each and every game, but everyone knows they can do it."

It could have been over a lot sooner if not for Crawford.

Starting his 11th straight game, Crawford denied Nick Bonino twice early, getting his right pad on a rebound in the slot 4:35 into the game and then with the glove another good chance four minutes later.

Hansen finally beat him as a power play expired with 7:47 left in the period. With Versteeg about to step out of the penalty box for roughing defenseman Luca Sbisa in response to a hard hit on Patrick Kane, the Canucks' fourth line broke out on a 3-on-2 rush. Dorsett's pass to Horvat in the middle deflected to an open Hansen cutting into the slot and he beat Crawford over the blocker.

It was the third straight game Hansen has scored a goal.

"Confidence is a funny thing," he said. "Once the puck goes in you feel like every shot you take might have a chance. Right now I am trying to put pucks on the net. As long as they go in I'm happy."

Crawford threw out his blocker to rob Hansen on a one-timer from the slot early in the second period and the Blackhawks tied it early into their third power play of the game 7:55 into the period.

Duncan Keith took a crisp cross-ice pass from Brent Seabrook and quickly threw a wobbling point shot at the net for Versteeg to knock out of the air past Miller for his seventh point in four games.

The Canucks had a great chance to restore the lead on a power play five minutes later, when a nice backdoor passing play left Henrik Sedin with an open net. But Crawford pushed across and splayed out and Sedin's low shot wedged under the heel of his left skate.

"Crow gave us a chance," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's been excellent, consistently game in, game out gives us a chance. Very predictable, on top of his game, alert, aware and handling the puck well. He's done everything we'd like out of a goaltender."

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