VANCOUVER – In time, the Vancouver Canucks might look back on their 4-3 win Friday night as the game that finally shattered the Chicago Blackhawks’ playoff mystique.
For now, the Canucks are just happy to be leading their NHL Western Conference quarter-final series 2-0.
“It’s good to get it out of the way,” said centre Ryan Kesler. “The next one is even more important.”
By finally beating Chicago in the second game of a playoff series the Canucks may have exorcised some demons from past series lost. They might have finally pushed the doubts out of their own minds.
The Canucks also know they need two more victories to dispose of the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks and move on to the next round of the playoffs.
“We’re not here to win one or two games,” said Canuck captain Henrik Sedin. “We’re here to move on.
“We look at it as a seven-game series. We need two more.”
Daniel Sedin, who scored two goals and had an assist, said the next two wins won’t come easy.
“It’s easier being up 2-0 than down 2-0,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a battle.
“They are going to come out hard the next game. We know that. We have to be ready.”
After being held pointless in Vancouver’s 2-0 win in Game 1, the Sedins had four points Friday. Henrik assisted on one of his brother’s goals.
“Tonight was our turn,” said Daniel. “That’s the way this team has been working all year.
“That’s why we are where we are.”
Jannik Hansen and defenceman Alex Edler also scored for the Canucks.
Ben Smith, with two goals, and Viktor Stalberg scored for Chicago. The Blackhawks return home facing a crucial Game 3 on Sunday. Game 4 in the best-of-seven series will be Tuesday.
“It’s not a position you want to be in,” said Patrick Kane, who has one point in the series. “We didn’t get the start we wanted.
“Hopefully we get some momentum from being at home and we can do the same thing they did to us.”
The Canucks had never beaten Chicago in a Game 2 in the four times the teams have met in the playoffs.
Vancouver had won the opening game against Chicago three times, including the last two seasons when the Blackhawks won Game 2 and went on to eliminate the Canucks from the second round of the playoffs.
Even in victory the Canucks managed to court disaster. After taking a 2-0 lead, Vancouver let Chicago climb to within one goal three times.
Past Vancouver teams might have panicked. These Canucks remained calm.
“It’s a different team,” said Daniel Sedin. “No one said anything.
“We were focusing on the next shift. That’s what needs to happen.”
Kesler said the Canucks made some simple mistakes.
“They did a good job of getting pucks to the net and crashing,” said Kesler.
“We missed a couple of assignments. There are things we need to tighten up.”
Daniel Sedin, the NHL’s regular-season scoring leader, scored the winning goal midway through the third. He stickhandled between two Chicago defenders, held up, then snapped a shot that beat Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford on the glove side.
The towel-waving, sellout crowd at Rogers Arena began to chant “MVP, MVP.”
“We had some timely goals,” said Daniel. “They are a championship team over there. They keep plugging away.
“They are never out of it. We had our hands full tonight.”
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was frustrated that his top players like Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp have not produced a point in the series.
“Other guys have to jump forward here,” said Quenneville. “We need everybody contributing offensively, defensively and more offensive zone time.
“It was tough playing catch-up early in the game again today.”
Hossa said it was good that Hawks managed to score threegoals on Roberto Luongo. The Canuck goaltender stopped all 32 shots he faced in Game 1.
“He’s a big goalie,” said Hossa. “We talked about getting more traffic.
“We have to it even more often that we did tonight.”
Edler, who missed 31 games this season with back surgery, inflicted a lot of damage on the Hawks.
The game had barely started before the bruising defenceman flattened Kane with a hit. A few minutes later Tanner Glass dealt a crushing blow to Chicago defenceman Chris Campoli.
Edler’s goal in the second period hurt the Blackhawks as much as any of his bodychecks.
Chicago had just gained confidence from their first goal of the playoffs, making the score 2-1. With just 14 seconds left in the period Edler blasted a shot from the blue-line that hit Smith’s stick and deflected over Crawford’s glove.
Smith shook his head and looked skyward.
“It was my fault,” Smith said. “The stick shouldn’t be in the lane, the body should.
“It was a tough one.”
Chicago’s power play was 0-2 and didn’t muster a shot on goal.
During the second period, with defenceman Dan Hamhuis off for interference, Vancouver’s penalty killers played with the Chicago power play like a cat with a mouse.
Kesler was a one-man wrecking crew. He knocked a Blackhawk off the puck behind the Chicago net, then fired a shot that Crawford blocked. On the same shift Kesler stole the puck again, then drove the net, knocking Crawford’s helmet off in a collision.
The Canucks have done a lot of things right to take a 2-0 lead in the series, but coach Alain Vigneault said his players may need to be better if they want to beat the Blackhawks Sunday.
“We’re trying as best we can to limit their opportunities but they’re a quality team with a lot of offence,” said Vigneault.
“They keep coming at you.”
The Canucks played without forward Mikael Samuelsson. A team spokesman said Samuelsson was sick, but offered no further explanation.
Samuelsson played 19 minutes 38 seconds in the first game and practised with the team Thursday.
Notes: The Canucks have a 12-12 record in playoff opening games played at home. …Suspended forward Raffi Torres didn’t skate with the team Friday morning due to food poisoning. …The Canucks fourth line of Tanner Glass, Maxim Lapierre and Victor Oreskovich combined for 15 of Vancouver’s 47 hits in Game 1.