VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Canucks are finding their comfort level in tight games, and it doesn't hurt they're winning them, too.
The Canucks were second in the NHL last season with a 30-11-7 record in one-goal games and won the Northwest Division. On Sunday, they played a one-goal game down to the wire before emerging with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks to propel them into a tie atop the division with the Minnesota Wild.
"We're getting more comfortable playing in these tighter games again," Brendan Morrison said after his power-play goal at 3:08 of the first period gave goalie Roberto Luongo the only lead he'd need.
"Last year it was kind of a forte and we've been playing in some tighter games and the guys feel good about that."
Morrison had an open net to shoot at after he took Sami Salo's cross-ice pass and buried it behind goalie Patrick Lalime while former Canuck Brent Sopel was serving a delay-of-game penalty for firing the puck over the defensive zone glass.
It was the first of nine power plays against a Blackhawk club playing its third road game in four nights but the Canucks couldn't put them away.
"We didn't do a good enough job, especially in the third (period) when we could really bury the team," said Morrison who scored his third goal in four games and seventh of the season. "We didn't come through and it was a little frustrating."
Daniel Sedin, who was robbed twice by Lalime's right pad, scored with 28 seconds remaining with the goalie lifted for a sixth attacker.
Even though it was Luongo's 34th career shutout and seventh as a Canuck, he treated his solid 27-save effort as just another day at the rink.
"My job's the same," said Luongo, who sprawled to make a game-saving stop on rookie Jonathan Toews during a late power play. "It doesn't matter what the score is.
"Obviously, you don't have much room to manoeuvre when it's a one-goal game. You knew with all the power plays we were getting they were probably going to get one on their side and it was a big kill for us."
The Canucks started the season with a 1-6 home record but Luongo has backstopped three straight victories at GM Place.
"He played well, especially on that power play at the end," said Hawk Patrick Kane, who leads all rookies in scoring. "We had maybe six chances but he stoned us."
Lalime, who blanked the Canucks in his last start against them, was stingy again, making 28 saves.
"We should give a lot of credit to our penalty killing," said Lalime, who denied Trevor Linden and Alex Burrows in close during the second period.
"One power-play goal was the difference tonight, so that says it all."
Luongo, who got his right pad on Dustin Byfuglien's drive and stood his ground against Adam Burish, who whacked at a loose puck - triggering a fight with Canuck Byron Ritchie - said he's not doing anything different although the defence has tightened.
"I feel the same way as I felt in Game 1," he said. "We've started playing really well as a team. Maybe that altered my game too but we work as a team and when everybody's firing off, going in the same direction, it betters everyone else."
The Blackhawks finished a six-game road trip with two wins but got points in four games.
"I'm happy," said coach Denis Savard. "We would have liked to have more points but we finished off strong.
"We played a good team game. That's what I want and that's what I got."
NOTES: Daniel Sedin played his 500th NHL game for Vancouver ... Mattias Ohlund returned from a four-game suspension for slashing Mikko Koivu of the Minnesota Wild ... Sopel played 322 games for the Canucks ... Chicago didn't score on any of their 20 power plays aginst the Canucks last season ... Tuomo Ruutu returned to the Hawks' lineup after missing a game with the flu ... Chicago called up forward Petri Kontiola from the AHL Rockford IceHogs.