Chicago Blackhawks centre Jonathan Toews (19) shoots the puck against Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom (25) during the second period at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jacob Markstrom (25) makes a save against Chicago Blackhawks centre Kirby Dach (77) during the first period at United Center.
Chicago Blackhawks’ Alex Nylander (92) keeps Vancouver Canucks’ Tyler Myers away from the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Chicago.
Vancouver Canucks’ Adam Gaudette, right, is unable to get his stick on a bouncing puck as Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford (50) defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Chicago. ORG XMIT: CXA106 [PNG Merlin Archive]
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, right, makes a save as Vancouver Canucks’ Loui Eriksson (21) tries for a rebound during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, in Chicago.
CHICAGO — The Vancouver Canucks came into Thursday’s meeting in the Windy City as one of the NHL’s hottest teams. The Chicago Blackhawks were one of the coldest.
Still hard to wrap your mind around that one but the Hawks, it seems, still have enough Patrick Kane, enough Jonathan Toews, and enough Corey Crawford to handle the Canucks.
Here’s what we learned from the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win at the United Center:
• In losing their first game in regulation since dropping a 1-0 decision to New Jersey on Oct. 19, the Canucks weren’t demonstrably awful. But neither were they very good, right Travis Green?
“I just don’t think we were very good,” said the Canucks’ head coach.
Suspected as much.
“We didn’t look sharp,” continued Green. “We didn’t handle the puck very well. I thought we had some players … we just weren’t very good tonight, some players.”
The Canucks, who came into the game with points in 12 of their previous 13 outings, finished the night with 38 shots on Crawford in the Hawks’ net. While that total sounds impressive, they didn’t produce a lot of clean looks nor did they sustain extended zone time in the Hawks’ end.
Trailing 2-1 heading into the third, they also mustered just nine shots and had to kill two penalties over the final 20 minutes. Kane, who finished the night with three points, scored the eventual game-winner on the second Hawks’ power play with just over five minutes left in the final frame.
“He’s one of the best out there,” Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers said of Kane. “You see the poise he has, the little plays he makes. It gives his linemates so much more time. He’s an unbelievable hockey player.”
Chicago had come into the game with just five power-play goals on the season in 42 attempts. They finished the night two-for-seven. The Canucks went one-for-five with the man-advantage and surrendered a shorty into an empty net playing six-on-four with just over two minutes left.
With Jacob Markstrom pulled for an extra attacker, Olli Maatta’s clearing attempt deflected off David Kampf at the Blackhawks’ blue-line and rolled the length of the ice into the empty Canucks’ net. Brandon Saad added a second empty netter for the Hawks after Jake Virtanen scored the Canucks’ second goal with just over a minute left.
“The last six, seven minutes we turned over some pucks and ended up taking some penalties,” said Green. “When you’re not playing well that’s what happens. You end up turning over a puck or taking a penalty or not skating.”
Tanev goes down
• After a dreadful start, the Canucks made things interesting the second period, cutting into a 2-0 Blackhawks’ lead on J.T. Miller’s power-play goal early in the frame. The visitors had the run of the play in the middle frame, outshooting the Hawks 12-10 but the larger development was an injury to defenceman Chris Tanev.
The Canucks’ defenceman didn’t come out to start the second frame after sustaining an upper-body injury late in the first. Tanev’s last shift came on a Blackhawks’ power play that ended with Andrew Shaw’s goal.
Without the veteran blueliner, Alex Edler and Myers logged 26:42 and 24:34 of ice time, respectively.
There was no immediate update on Tanev’s condition. Green said he’d have to talk to the team’s medical staff before deciding on his availability for Friday night’s game in Winnipeg. A call-up from Utica is a stronger possibility.
“You never want to see a guy go down,” said Myers. “It seems like it’s been happening a lot lately. But I thought all three games we’ve responded well. All the guys on the back end can handle the responsibility.”
• The game started at 7:30 p.m. Chicago time. Unfortunately, the Canucks didn’t start playing until shortly after 8 p.m. Alex DeBrincat opened the scored seven minutes in, ripping a laser over Markstrom’s shoulder as he was falling between three Canucks.
DeBrincat’s goal was part of an opening 12 minutes in which the Hawks held a 15-3 edge in shots on goal.
Troy Stecher also prevented a goal when he blocked Kampf’s shot from the doorstep with Markstrom down and out.
The Canucks gained some momentum off a penalty kill midway through the frame, recording eight straight shots on Corey Crawford before J.T. Miller took a hooking penalty in the offensive zone late in the period.
It took Shaw all of 11 seconds to convert on the ensuing Hawks’ power play. Shaw converted a three-way passing play with Dylan Strome and Patrick Kane.
Onward with the forwards
• Green went with the same forward group he’s utilized the last four games, which meant Loui Eriksson was in the lineup and Sven Baertschi was in the press box. Eriksson finished the night with just over seven minutes of ice time.
“ I like the way our team’s playing,” Green said at the morning skate. “We’d like to keep it going.”
Green’s relationship with Baertschi goes back a decade to the Portland Winterhawks where Baertschi was the team’s star forward and Green was the assistant coach.
“ The good thing about Sven and I am we can have an open dialogue and communication,” Green said. “We do go back a long way. I’m going to be friends with Sven a long time. I want him to do well. He knows when he goes in he’s got to give us a game and I’m confident he will.”
LISTEN: This week both Canucks beat writers Patrick Johnston and Ben Kuzma join Paul Chapman to talk about the team’s performance on the ice. They cover the versatility of the Canucks and how they have so far exhibited the ability to outscore teams, or play a tough, physical and “heavy” game against quality teams like the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
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