The Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks both entered the United Center with a two-game winning streak. With two points, the Blackhawks would once again be tied for first in the Western Conference, while the Canucks had their sights set on continuing to climb the standings into a playoff position.
The 2011 Western Conference finalists have had no love lost in previous meetings and prepared for a high-intensity battle. After Henrik Sedin earned his 1,000th point against the Florida Panthers and Scott Darling shut out the Boston Bruins, both teams looked to continue their recent success.
Each team came out with the expected intensity and treated the United Center crowd to a fast-paced start. With very few whistles in the first part of the opening frame, the Blackhawks jumped out to a quick 8-3 shot advantage. For much of the first 10 minutes, the Blackhawks drove the game, putting up 10 shots on Ryan Miller in the first half of the period. The Canucks took more control of the period after the 10-minute mark and created some good opportunities of their own, but the Blackhawks were first to score.
Jonathan Toews controlled the puck in the offensive zone and sent the puck towards the point to Brian Campbell. Campbell fired a slap-pass to the middle of the high slot where Richard Panik one-timed an on-edge puck crossbar down, giving the Blackhawks the first lead of the game and Brian Campbell his 500th career point. Ryan Hartman didn’t get a point on the play, but he was the Hawks player who initially carried the puck into the zone, then provided a crucial screen in front of Ryan Miller, who didn’t see the puck until he heard it behind him.
Rich's one-timer makes it 1-0! pic.twitter.com/kAfDNxGsnx
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) January 23, 2017
Not long after claiming the first lead of the game, the Blackhawks struck once more when Patrick Kane secured a loose puck down low thanks to a Jonathan Toews pass and sniped the top right corner with precision. The Blackhawks ended the first period with emphasis. After dominating much of the period but having nothing to show for it despite 18 shots on goal, they were able to push through to a two-goal lead after 20 minutes.
With both teams playing a cautious game with the long change, the second period yielded fewer quality scoring chances than the first. The highest-caliber opportunities came for the Canucks when Trevor Van Riemsdyk got called for a high sticking penalty. The ensuing power play yielded some close calls but ultimately was killed off by the Hawks shorthanded unit.
Shortly thereafter, Alexander Edler was sent to the penalty box for slashing, giving the Blackhawks their first man-advantage of the game. Despite sustained pressure in their defensive zone, the Canucks were able to kill off Edler’s penalty and then quickly spring Edler for a transition chance. Duncan Keith resorted to hooking Edler, and the ice flipped to give the Canucks their second power play.
— Brian Hedger (@BrianHedger) January 23, 2017
Despite being without their Norris trophy-winning defenseman, the Blackhawks kept the Canucks off the scoreboard and continued to improve their penalty kill, which had struggled early in the season. Not only did the Blackhawks successfully neutralize the second Canucks power play of the period, but Tanner Kero even had a shorthanded breakaway that Miller calmly denied, keeping the score 2-0 going into the third.
Kero has been playing wonderfully of late, with four points in his previous two games. Joel Quenneville, normally reserved and calculated in his comments, has noted that Kero has been “helping himself” with his quality play, and will probably stick on the Chicago roster, even after Marcus Kruger returns to the lineup.
Coming out for the third period, the Canucks displayed a drive that was missing in the first two periods. They were able to sustain pressure in all three zones and put pressure on the Blackhawks, who looked content with their two-goal lead. The pressure led to a Michal Kempny holding infraction. This time, the Blackhawks were unable to kill off the penalty as a Troy Stecher shot flew past Corey Crawford, screened by Daniel Sedin.
Less than a minute later, Bo Horvat took the puck to the net with strength and was able to launch a rebound past Corey Crawford to draw the game to a 2-2 tie.
— John Dietz (@johndietzdh) January 23, 2017
— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) January 23, 2017
Kempny placed himself in Joel Quenneville’s doghouse after taking the penalty that led to the Canucks’ first goal, and then immediately allowed Bo Horvat to walk to the front of the net. After these mental lapses, Quenneville apparently had seen enough and sat Kempny.
The Blackhawks then kicked it into a higher gear with the fuming Quenneville behind the bench. With less than 90 seconds left to go, Richard Panik shot a puck off the boards and it bounced right to Jonathan Toews, who launched it into the yawning cage for the 3-2 lead. Toews continued his stellar night by assisting on Marian Hossa’s empty-net goal to seal the 4-2 win.
CHI – R. Panik (11) assisted by B. Campbell (9) and J. Toews (16)
CHI – P. Kane (15) assisted by J. Toews (17)
VAN – T. Stecher (2) assisted by H. Sedin (20) and B. Sutter (12)
VAN – B. Horvat (14) unassisted
CHI – J. Toews (8) assisted by R. Panik (9) and N. Hjalmarsson (7)
CHI (EN) – M. Hossa (18) assisted by J. Toews (18)
THW Three Stars
First: Jonathan Toews (Goal, Three Assists, plus-4)
Second: Richard Panik (Goal, Assist, plus-2)
Third: Brian Campbell (Assist – 500th Career Point, plus-1)
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I grew up in the northern Chicago suburbs but currently growing my passion for the game in the state of hockey.