CHICAGO – Patrick Kane called himself lucky.
“Mine and Patrick Sharp’s kind of snuck in,” Kane said of two of the Blackhawks’ shootout goals in a 2-1 victory over Vancouver on Wednesday night.
“We’ll take it.”
Jonathan Toews and Sharp scored first, matched by Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler. After Kane’s backhander slid under Roberto Luongo’s pads and the goalie accidentally nudged it across the line, Mikael Samuelsson fired his shot wide of the Chicago net, giving the Blackhawks their fourth straight victory.
The game’s closeness wasn’t a surprise. The teams met in the playoffs the last two years, Chicago winning each series.
“We’ve both lost some players, so it’s a little bit different, but I think the rivalry is definitely there,” Kane said.
To Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, the Blackhawks look every bit a champion.
“They’re an elite team, even though they’ve changed a couple of parts,” Vigneault said. “Their two top lines are exactly the same, and that defensive pair (Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook) plays about 30 minutes a game. That’s a pretty good pair.”
Vancouver cramped Chicago’s free-skating style until overtime, when Marian Hossa’s breakaway with 2:13 left was stopped by Luongo. Chicago goalie Marty Turco’s save on Manny Malhotra with 19 seconds left brought on the shootout.
“We grind until the end,” Hossa said. “It was a defensive game. Up and down, not many clean chances.”
Sedin and Chicago’s Viktor Stalberg scored in regulation.
Sedin tied it a minute into the third period. Skating in from the left side, he fired a shot past the sprawled Turco after the goalie stopped defenceman Christian Ehrhoff from the right crease.
Stalberg scored with 37.7 seconds left in the first period, wristing a shot over Luongo’s left shoulder from 15 feet in the right slot after taking a feed from Jake Dowell.
Vancouver (2-3-2) outshot Chicago 37-32, including an 8-2 margin in overtime.
“It was tough to fight for and find space,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t generate enough (scoring) attempts tonight.”
Chicago, which won only one of its first four games, improved to 5-2-1.
In the third period, Luongo made difficult saves on Hossa at 1:34 and Kane’s one-timer midway through the period. Luongo made another big save on Hossa’s breakaway midway through overtime. A minute later, Turco countered with a glove save on Kesler and stopped Malhotra from the crease with 19 seconds left.
Turco’s best stops in regulation were on Kesler and Mason Raymond, the latter on a rebound six minutes into the game. The Blackhawks’ defence generally limited the Canucks to deep-angle chances after that, with Sedin’s goal and Kesler’s overtime chance the glaring exceptions.
NOTES: Vancouver centre Rick Rypien served the first game of an indefinite suspension for grabbing a fan Tuesday night in the Canucks’ loss in Minnesota. His hearing with the NHL is Friday. … Canucks defenceman Keith Ballard (concussion) missed his third straight game, and defenceman Dan Hamhuis (foot) sat out for the second game in a row. … Chicago went back to a conventional lineup of 12 forwards and six defencemen after dressing seven defencemen Monday night in a 3-2 victory over St. Louis.