Corey Crawford made 36 saves, and Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger scored goals just nine seconds apart as the Chicago Blackhawks stunned the Vancouver Canucks with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night at Rogers Arena.
Robert Luongo looked stellar in his own right, stopping 27 shots in the game, but ultimately Ryan Kesler’s first period goal wasn’t enough as the Canucks suffered their sixth loss in their last seven games.
The game got off to a fast start as both teams tried to establish a high pace early on, and as such there were plenty of chances both ways. Ben Smith had a great shot from in close that Luongo barely got his blocker on, and Brandon Pirri dished a great pass to Patrick Kane on a 2-on-1 rush that Luongo snared with a quick glove.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, the high pace of the game ended up costing them, as they picked up back to back penalties towards the end of the first period. Brandon Saad committed a slashing penalty, and then on a 2-on-2 rush short-handed, Andrew Shaw picked up a silly tripping penalty in the middle of the ice. On the extended 5-on-3 power play, the Canucks ended up scoring a goal after some great puck movement, Jason Garrison’s shot rebounded straight out to Kesler in the near side faceoff dot, and he fired a shot home past Crawford to give Vancouver a 1-0 lead.
The second period played out in much the same fashion, with both teams picking up some really good chances near the net. Early in the frame, Saad got a great shot off on a pass from Jonathan Toews below the goal line, but Luongo showed some great anticipation in making the lateral move across the crease to stop the shot.
Not to be outdone though, the Canucks had some great chances of their own, with Alex Burrows getting a couple off near the front of the net. Fortunately for Chicago, they had defenseman Duncan Keith camped out in front of the net, and on both Burrows chances with an empty net to shoot at, Keith was able to clear the puck out, and it kept the game at 1-0 through the end of the second period.
The third period started out well for Chicago, with Jeremy Morin drawing an early penalty on a fantastic drive toward the net. Unfortunately for the Hawks, it was Patrick Sharp who had the near-miss on this chance, firing a shot that ended up bouncing off of both posts and didn’t go into the net. It was the only good chance the Hawks got, and it seemed as though it might have finally been the lost opportunity that finally broke their spirit.
Suddenly, the Hawks threw that notion out the window. Keith fired a shot from the point that bounced off of Luongo, and Kane was able to collect the rebound in the slot. He whirled around and backhanded a pass toward the middle of the ice, and Shaw corralled the puck and snuck a shot between Luongo’s pads and tied the game at 1-1.
Just nine seconds later, the Blackhawks struck again. Off of a won faceoff, the Blackhawks took advantage of some poor Canucks’ defense, and Kruger jumped out on a 2-on-1 rush. He ended up beating Luongo 5-hole yet again, and within a span of nine seconds, the Hawks had gone from being down a goal to being up a goal.
Undaunted, the Canucks didn’t give up. As the period wore on, they started to take advantage of some porous Chicago defense, and despite the great effort by guys like Brent Seabrook to use physicality force Vancouver off the puck, the Canucks still got a ton of chances. Despite his recent struggles, Crawford showed no signs of panic amid the onslaught, and he stood tall as the Canucks unleashed a flurry of shots.
The Hawks did get a late scare when Alex Edler hit Toews with a slash in the left arm, and Toews gingerly skated off the ice. On the bench, Toews was visibly upset about the play, and tried to shake the pain out of his arm. He did end up coming in and finishing up the game, but it was obviously a scary moment for Hawks fans who know how little the Hawks can afford to lose a guy like Toews.
At the end of the third period, the Canucks ended up with 14 shots on goal, but Crawford stopped all of them and gave the Blackhawks their second consecutive victory. Their next challenge will be the Edmonton Oilers on Monday in the first stop in their tour of Alberta to wrap up the Canadian portion of their circus trip.