Playing their third game in four days, the Chicago Blackhawks’ piping hot offense was doused in cold water as the Vancouver Canucks used a Jannik Hansen hat trick to score a 4-1 victory on Sunday night.
Radim Vrbata scored a crucial insurance goal for the Canucks as they picked up the win. Kris Versteeg scored the lone Blackhawks goal on a second period power play tally.
As the game got started, Vancouver came out with speed that the Blackhawks had trouble matching, but fortunately they were able to keep the Canucks off the board. Nick Bonino looked especially lethal, picking up two quick shots on goal that forced Corey Crawford to make saves early on.
A little bit later in the frame, Luca Sbisa drilled Patrick Kane into the corner boards, and when Kris Versteeg took exception to the hit he was whistled for a two-minute minor. Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad both had quality scoring chances short-handed, but it was Vancouver that ended up capitalizing as Hansen received a pass from Derek Dorsett and flipped it past Crawford to put Vancouver up by a 1-0 margin.
The Blackhawks got a power play of their own late in the period as Brad Richardson was sent off for cross-checking, but they couldn’t generate any shot attempts as they continued to struggle in that department. Vancouver ultimately outshot the Hawks by a 13-11 margin in that first period and held a one-goal edge through 20 minutes.
When the second period got started, the Blackhawks got another power play as Alex Edler was sent off for high-sticking, but the power play looked even more lethargic on their second opportunity. Passes connected around the perimeter for Chicago, but no shot attempts could find their way through the aggressive Canucks’ point forwards as the Hawks continued to trail.
A little less than eight minutes into the period, the Blackhawks went on the man-advantage for the third time in the game, but this time their puck movement was accompanied by shots from the point, and they scored to tie things up. The puck eventually found its way to Duncan Keith at the point, and when he fired in a shot toward Ryan Miller, Versteeg got his stick blade on the shot in midair and deflected it into the goal to tie things up at 1-1.
An Adam Clendening penalty had the potential to give Vancouver the momentum right back, but Crawford had other ideas. First it was Kevin Bieksa feeling wronged, as his shot from the point found traffic in front and had to be fought off by the Hawks’ goaltender. Henrik Sedin then had a golden opportunity from in the blue paint as he received a pass from Radim Vrbata, but Crawford was somehow able to kick across the crease and slam the door with his leg pad.
The Canucks opened the third period aggressively once again, with Chris Higgins missing the net on a 2-on-1 rush early on. Bonino got another chance from in close off a rebound, but he was forced to rush the shot because of an impending stick check by Brent Seabrook, and he ended up firing it off the post to keep the game tied.
With 13.5 minutes remaining though, the Canucks’ pressure finally yielded results, and they took the lead. Dorsett collected the puck along the boards in the offensive zone, and when he feathered a shot toward the middle of the ice, Hansen got a stick blade on it and deflected it just inside the top right corner of the net to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead.
The Blackhawks got a power play of their own a short time later, but once again their inability to get shots on target came back to haunt them. The best chance came on a Saad shot from the slot, but it ended up deflecting off of Bryan Bickell and skipping wide of the cage as Vancouver retained their advantage.
That lack of ability to finish ended up costing the Hawks with about 2.5 minutes to go as Vancouver scored a critical insurance goal. Daniel Sedin got into the offensive zone on the rush, and he tapped a pass back to Chris Tanev. Tanev’s shot was saved by Crawford, but a rebound trickled loose and Vrbata pounced on the rebound and fired it home to make it 3-1.
The Canucks put the final nail in the coffin with about 42 seconds to go as Hansen got in behind the defense, picked up the loose puck and tapped a shot into the empty net to give himself his first career hat trick and his team a 4-1 victory.
The Blackhawks will take a few days off before taking on the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night.