CANUCKS 2 @ BLACKHAWKS 4
The end is near for the Vancouver Canucks. Sunday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks (1-2-2) is Vancouver's (3-2-0) second last on their six-game road trip and in order to get back into the swing of things away from GM Place, they'll need a good effort against the Hawks.
After starting the season with back-to-back wins against Calgary, Vancouver has lost two of three, most recently to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. The good news for the Canucks is that it's easy to figure why they haven't found success on the road of late, their special teams play has been far from brilliant. That could all change today with the expected return of defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who would bolster both the power play and penalty kill. Bieksa hasn't played since Oct 11 against the Flames, in that contest he injured his knee but after an MRI came back negative, the rugged D-man was cleared to play and Vigneault said he should be back for the Canucks tonight.
Shutting down Chicago's young guns is obviously the key to taking down the Blackhawks, Patrick Kane has been hot to start the season and Jonathan Toews is never far behind. Roberto Luongo, who is expected to be back in net for Vancouver, has struggled in his last three starts, so an improved effort from him is also crucial for Vancouver. Special teams, as mentioned, is important anytime, but to snap out of their funk the Canucks need all hands on deck both while up and down a man. Tonight is Joel Quenneville's coaching debut in the Windy City, a second straight loss is all he'll have to look forward to if the Canucks can come together and accomplish these three things.
20:00 - What's up everybody, it's good to have you along. I'm Derek and no, I'm not in Chicago, I wish. I'm watching the game on Canucks PPV though, so I'll do my best to bring those of you who can't watch the game all the inside action.
20:00 - Some line-up changes for the Canucks: Rick Rypien is ill, he has returned to Vancouver and won't be playing and Lawrence Nycholat is a healthy scratch. Also, Roberto Luongo is back in net for the Canucks after taking a seat to Curtis Sanford against the Sabres.
18:10 - The Canucks just had their best scoring chance of the game as their second line almost opened the scoring on the rush. Pavol Demitra to Mason Raymond back to Demitra who hammered it from 40 feet away on netminder Cristobal Huet.
16:55 - Jonathan Toews with a head of steam and a nice move around Shane O'Brien, he lost control but got the puck back and got it back to Patrick Kane, his shot is hard and on target, but Luongo made the save.
16:11 - Good opening couple of minutes for Vancouver, they've already recorded five shots on net to Chicago's two. None have been too dangerous though, at least they've come out strong.
15:44 - Mike Brown is in the line-up for the Canucks and he's making an impact already. A bit of a scrum in the Chicago zone, initiated by Brown, led to O'Brien taking on Adam Burish after no one would challenge Brown. O'Brien connected with three tough shots to the chin of Burish, who couldn't handle the heat. Darcy Hordichuk wasn't involved in the scrum, but he suffered an injury somewhere on the play, he just headed to the Vancouver dressing room.
15:00 - How did Toews not put that in? He had a glorious chance to put the Hawks up 1-0. Luongo stopped Toews initial backhand shot, but the the puck trickled around the goal line, Dustin Byfuglien fanned on it so Toews took a swipe but Luongo swung his arm back to make the save.
12:45 - Good idea jonogunn, let's make Kane cry. Or just hold him off the scoresheet, whatever works.
9:32 - 1 - 0 CANUCKS - Ryan Kesler to Raymond to Demitra, tick-tac-toe, and just like that the Canucks are up 1-0. Vancouver is 3-0-0 when they score the first goal of the game. That goal was set up by a huge Pyatt hit, he took out Kris Versteeg behind the Chicago net, that left Demitra wide open at the right side of the net and Raymond found him wit a swift, crisp pass.
8:29 - 1 - 1 TIE - Brent Seabrook's first goal of the season has this game tied. He rifled a shot from the line that beat Luongo on the short side. The Hawks tie this game up just 63 seconds after Vancouver opens the scoring. Toews and Kane earned assists on that goal, so much for shutting down Kane, that's his sixth point of the season.
6:32 - Canucks are headed to the power play for the second time on the night as Martin Havlet is in the box. Not sure if that's good or bad, Vancouver has the 28th ranked power play in the NHL and they're already 0-for-1 tonight. Yikes.
6:32 - Shots are 10-4 in favor of Vancouver.
6:05 - Taylor Pyatt just took a trip to the box ending Vancouver's PP chance. The teams will play 4-on-4 for a while.
5:23 - Luongo just gave up another near goal short side, Louie can thank his right post for stopping Brent Sopel's blast.
4:29 - 2 - 1 CHICAGO - Demitra turned the puck over Chicago's zone, Duncan Keith brought it into Vancouver's end and got it to Patrick Sharp who took it deep into the zone on the left side. Sharp tried to fire the puck across the crease to an open teammate, but the biscuit found it's way in the net off the stick of Mattias Ohlund.
3:39 - Sami Salo just left the Canucks bench for the dressing room, no word on what's bugging him.
2:28 - Big shift in Chicago's favor over the last four minutes, they are now tied with Vancouver in shots at 10. They've turned on the burners and are out skating the Canucks badly.
00:50 - First sign of Vancouver's third line as Kesler just went a backhand pass towards the net that Jannik Hansen almost tipped home.
00:00 - That's it for the opening period. It started with some promise with the Canucks opening the scoring, but the Blackhawks' young guns, who Vancouver knew would be trouble, helped put their team in front to end the period. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have an assist each so far, they have proven they can perform on the ice, yet they have trouble simply speaking off the ice.
19:20 - Henrik Sedin just lost a draw in the Chicago zone, Vancouver is really struggling in the face off circle today. They're now 5-for-11.
17:00 - Mike Brown and Ben Eager just tussled, nice little scrap. Eager shot the puck at Luongo after the whistle on the last play, that might have started this one. Brown was swinging with some might on that one but he didn't land anything real punishing.
16:04 - Hansen and Alex Burrows just had a great chance to even this game up. Burrows brought the puck in on the left hand side with great speed, he blasted the puck at Huet with authority and the Chi-town netminder was just able to get his blocker on it to send the puck wide.
15:59 - Canucks are on the power play once again, they're 2-for-27 on the year while up a man. Did I mention the Blackhawks have the sixth ranked penalty kill in the league this season?
14:00 - A good penalty kill there for the Hawks as the Canucks were swarming late. Vancouver's top line almost connected, Daniel fed Steve Bernier who was alone in front on the left side, but Sharp just got a stick on the puck to prevent a sure goal.
13:32 - Shots are 14-12 for Vancouver right now and although it hasn't been an overly physical affair, the Canucks lead in hits 9-8.
12:15 - Still no sign of Salo; Raymond just drew a penalty with his speed, Havlat couldn't keep up so he lazily hooked the youngster. Canucks power play, uh oh.
10:11 - Power play is over, no real threat to score by Vancouver. They're fairly lifeless right now, as is the message board. No comments since JuicyJustice gave two cents...not liking our chances of a comeback?
8:31 - As the Canucks try to kill off a Willie Mitchell tripping penalty, I can tell you that there's still no sign of Hordicuk, Vancouver could use his physical game right now.
7:11 - Just as Mitchell stepped out of the box to even things up, Alex Edler heads in for hooking to put the Canucks down a man once again. The Hawks are 1-for-3 on the power play so far.
6:03 - Vancouver should take notes on how Chicago dominates on the power play. They just set up in the Canucks' zone with ease, moving the puck from point to point to down low on both sides so easily. The Blackhawks are making it look easy.
4:33 - Raymond is so fast he almost jumped out his skates on that last rush. He lost his footing at the Chicago line but held possession of the puck and fired a tough shot at Huet who had to make a skillful save.
2:58 - Daniel Sedin and Bernier just had a nice scoring opportunity. Going against Sopel on a two-on-one, Daniel drew the defender before trying to shuffle the pass to Bernier, Sopel was up for the task though and he blocked the pass.
00:24 - Daniel just found Bernier as he snuck behind the defence, in all alone on Huet Bernier went to the backhand, but he couldn't find a hole on the goaltender.
00:00 - The score is the same through two as it was after one with the Canucks still down a goal. Steve Bernier and the Sedins have certainly picked up their play in this game, they don't have any points but they've combined for seven shots. That, and the Sedins can act, which is more than I can say for Toews and Kane if you watched the video after the first.
20:00 - The Canucks are going to have to come-from-behind if they hope to win this game, good news is they've already done it twice this season. Really, if they can do it against the defending Stanley Cup champs, surely they can pull the rug out from under the young Hawks...
19:29 - Shots are 19-16 for the Canucks right now, Huet has been decent in net for Chicago but Vancouver hasn't really tested him yet in this one.
17:56 - Kane stripped Bieksa of the puck at centre ice, he brought the puck into the Vancouver zone before feeding Toews who was striding down the right wing, the Winnipeg-native sent a knuckler in on Luongo, he gloved it easily.
17:36 - TSN turning point perhaps? Eager just interfered with Burrows and he's headed to the box. Vancouver's PP hasn't done a thing this game but maybe this will be the one.
17:23 - Just found out Demitra is not on the Canucks bench to start this period; they're dropping like flies in the Windy City.
15:21 - The Canucks were an inch from tying this game on the power play. Ohlund released a torpedo towards the net, it had eyes for the mesh but rang off the post. Close, but no cigar.
13:52 - Vancouver is showing a lot more life right now than earlier in this game. They're delivering checks every chance they get and are getting shots on net from every angle. If they keep this up, they'll tie the game in the next few minutes. Yes, you can quote me.
13:29 - With Pyatt in the box for hooking, it's the Canucks who get a solid chance to score. Mitchell sent an outlet pass to Hansen who went in with Kesler on a two-on-one, Hansen teed it up and sent it wide.
13:02 - 3 - 1 CHICAGO - POWER PLAY GOAL - Sharp ripped it from the point, Louie made the save but Dustin Byfuglien battled to keep the puck in the crease, Kane found it and put it into the empty net from the right side. Luongo swiped at the puck while it was sitting in crease, he missed it though and it got to Kane. That's the eighth power play goal the Canucks have given up in their last five games.
9:47 - The Hawks are all over the Canucks again, this resembles the middle of the first period when Chicago took the lead.
6:45 - 4 - 1 CHICAGO - Sharp has been just that tonight. One a three-on-three rush, Kane took it down the left side then fed Sharp who was coming down the middle, he put it past Luongo, just barely. It was loose in Louie's equipment and the Canucks captain put the puck in off his skate.
4:52 - 4 - 2 CHICAGO - Too little, too late? We'll find out. Bernier stole the puck in Vancouver'z zone, sent it to Henrik who went into the Chicago end on the left wing before putting a soft shot on net. It hit the Blackhawks' defenceman and went in past Huet. We're alive thanks to Hank's second of the year.
4:23 - I like your optimism canuckfan1621. Canucks are headed to the power play as well, if they can get another goal here we're in for a wacky wild finish.
2:15 - Kane must be brothers with Michael Phelps. He was hit by Ohlund in Vancouver's end and Kane dove to the ice like he'd been shot. That was hilarious!
1:03 - Raymond had a glorious chance to score there. He got the puck alone in front of Huet, went to his backhand but Huet made a great save to keep the Canucks at bay.
00:00 - Just when Vancouver decided to show up, the score clock ran out of time. The Canucks looked good in the final few minutes while playing some desperate hockey, it was far from enough to steal this game though as the Blackhawks were just too much. Final shots 30-26 for Vancity.
FINAL SCORE: CHICAGO 4 - VANCOUVER 2