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Quenneville wins first with Hawks

by Brian Compton / NHL.com
It came a day later than he had hoped, but Joel Quenneville notched a win on Sunday that he won't soon forget.
   
With the help of three-point nights from Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane, Quenneville recorded his first win as coach of the Chicago Blackhawks in a 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center.
   
Sharp had two goals and an assist, while Kane had a goal and two assists to help avenge Saturday's disappointing shootout loss at St. Louis, where they blew a 3-1 lead en route to a 4-3 defeat. Quenneville replaced Denis Savard as coach on Thursday following a 1-2-1 start.
   
"I thought I had it (Saturday) night," Quenneville said of his first win with Chicago. "Certainly, it's a thrill. I'm very excited about being here in Chicago. I feel very fortunate to be in this spot. Just being around the guys the last three or four days, I'm really excited about this group."
   
Things didn't get off on the right foot on Sunday, though. Vancouver notched the game's opening goal when Pavol Demitra beat Cristobal Huet at 9:32 of the first period. After Blackhawks defenseman Aaron Johnson coughed up the puck behind the net, Mason Raymond fed Demitra, and the latter put it past Huet from just in front of the crease for his second goal of the season.
   
But the Blackhawks quickly evened things up, as Brent Seabrook tied the game just 63 seconds later. With the teams at even strength, Seabrook took a pass from Kane from behind the net and fired a shot from the top of the right circle past Roberto Luongo to make it 1-1. It was Seabrook's first goal of the season.
   
Huet, who signed a four-year, $24.45 million free-agent contract on July 1, was strong in his third start -- and his first victory with the Blackhawks. He's splitting the goaltending load with veteran Nikolai Khabibulin.
   
''The way it is now, every chance you have to play you have to take it and respond,'' said Huet, who finished with 28 saves. ''Nik has been playing well. It's important for me to play well, too.''
   
Quenneville was pleased with Huet's performance and believes the goalie situation in Chicago is a wonderful problem to have.
   
"It was a great response," Quenneville said. "Khabi's played three real solid games in a row, and Huey's been better and better every game. He was outstanding tonight. It's a nice situation where both goalies are both giving us high-end performances. I think your team responds to that type of effort, knowing you're getting quality and consistent goaltending."
   
Sharp put Chicago in front prior to the end of the period on a power-play tally. With Taylor Pyatt in the penalty box, Sharp tried to send a centering pass to Kris Versteeg, but it deflected off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Mattias Ohlund and past Luongo as the Hawks grabbed a 2-1 lead.
   
After a scoreless second period, Chicago pulled away in the third. Kane scored on the power play at 6:58 -- his fourth goal of the season -- when he stuffed Sharp's rebound past Luongo. Sharp then scored a power-play goal of his own at the 13:15 mark as the Blackhawks held a three-goal edge.
   
Kane may have been upset by Chicago's decision to fire Savard, but he's not allowing that to affect his play on the ice. Kane, the Calder Trophy winner last season as the League's top rookie, was in tears following Friday's practice when he was asked about Savard's dismissal. He has three goals and three assists in the last two games.
   
''I don't know how much (the coaching change) affected him,'' Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. ''I guess it motivated him. We're reaping the benefits right now.''
     
 
 
Henrik Sedin cut the deficit in half with his second goal of the season with 4:52 to play. But it was too little, too late for the Canucks, who fell to .500 (3-3-0) with the loss.
   
"We've got a lot of capable people here and we all have to play up to our potential," said Luongo, who allowed four goals on 26 shots. "Three out of the four goals went off our guys. We just have to work harder and know that we won't get every bounce that comes along."
   
On Sunday, it was the Blackhawks who received the lucky bounces. Just a few days on the job, Quenneville is already excited about what the future holds in the Windy City.
   
"You look organizationally, and there's a big picture that's very bright here," Quenneville said. "But as a coach, we're in the short-term business here. We want to win hockey games. It's a nice situation where we want to see these kids get better quickly and contribute to our team game. Anything we can do to improve our hockey club, we'll visit that."

Material from wire services was used in this report.


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