Whenever the Canucks and Blackhawks meet, it’s almost like a shock therapy session for Vancouver and their fans. They’re there to relive a nightmare they’ve experienced the last two seasons in the playoffs when the Blackhawks have eliminated the Canucks in virtually embarrassing ease. When they meet up in the regular season, their match-ups often function as a cruel reminder of the fate Vancouver has met the last two years.
Tonight, the Canucks opted to fight back. Vancouver jumped out to a first period lead on Christian Ehrhoff’s goal but when the second rolled around, it seemed like the same story was about to unfold as Jonathan Toews and Nick Boynton scored to put Chicago up 2-1. Vancouver bounced back though as Mikael Samuelsson scored late in the period to make it 2-2 as the teams headed to the third.
In the third, Dave Bolland would put Chicago up 3-2 with a rebound goal at 7:47 but the Canucks fortitude would shine through again less than three minutes later as Henrik Sedin scored on the power play as he and his brother Daniel Sedin worked some puck magic to even things up. Daniel would ice the game six minutes later with a goal of his own to put Vancouver ahead for good. Vancouver was able to beat Marty Turco who made 28 saves in the loss.
The game wouldn’t be without controversy though. Dave Bolland had a goal wiped away in the first period as the referees felt he interfered with Roberto Luongo and disallowed what was believed to be the game’s first goal. Compounding that, Ehrhoff’s goal in the first appeared to exit the zone before being brought back in leading to the goal. Replays show that while the call was close, the puck did cross the blue line making the play offsides. The call was missed and Vancouver got a goal. Chicago got their own shots in as well as Marty Turco got a cheap shot in on Ryan Kesler using his stick to chop Kesler in the groin, sending him off to the bench for a spell to catch his breath.
All that aside, the game came down to the power play as Chicago finished 0-5 with the man advantage including a 47 second span of 5-on-3 action. The Canucks capitalized on two of their power play chances and Roberto Luongo cashed in with a stellar performance stopping 42 shots. If this win is an example of what the Canucks can do this year and their mental block against Chicago is gone, life in the Western Conference is going to be really tough for the other 14 teams.
When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.
Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.
“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?
Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.
Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.
It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.
Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.
On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?
It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?
* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.
If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.
The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.
After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.
If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.
Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.
If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:
“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”
The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.
Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:
With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.
Measuring stick stretch begins
Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.
This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.
It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.
In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.