VANCOUVER – Andrew Brunette knows the value of the power play. That’s how he’s scored all four of his goals this season.
Brunette got the first of the Chicago Blackhawks’ two goals with the man advantage Wednesday en route to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
The victory helped erase the memory of a 6-2 Vancouver win Nov. 6 in Chicago when the opportunistic Canucks converted five of six power-play chances.
“The last three or four games it’s crawling, it’s slowly coming back,” Brunette said of a Chicago power play that went two for three against Vancouver and is six for 14 in their last four games.
“It’s been a point of frustration for everybody here. It’s nice to get a couple tonight and hopefully the snowball’s rolling downhill and we’ll pick up a little momentum here,” added Brunette, who tapped in Marcus Kruger’s crafty backhand pass to tie the game.
The disciplined Hawks didn’t give the Canucks to showcase their top-ranked power play, which has accounted for 23 goals so far this season.
“We were a little disappointed on how we played on home ice,” Brunette said. “Tonight that (discipline) was the focus coming in.
“Vancouver came at us in the first (period) pretty well but we kind of hung in there and started taking the game over.”
Patrick Kane scored on Chicago’s second power play to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead midway through the second period.
Jonathan Towes counted his fifth goal in four games and Patrick Sharp added another 1:49 later to provide a cushion in the third period. Steve Montador completed the Hawk attack.
Jannik Hansen scored for the Canucks against netminder Corey Crawford, who made 28 saves.
Chicago fired 27 shots at Vancouver’s Cory Schneider, who got the start after the club announced Roberto Luongo suffered an upper body injury in Sunday’s game.
Luongo took a shot off his mask in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders but stayed in that game.
Blackhawk coach Joel Quenneville said his players were not looking for a repeat of the defeat in Chicago.
“We saw what can happen when you put them on the power play,” Quenneville said of Vancouver’s 26.7 per cent conversion rate with the man advantage.
“Their power play is as hot as anybody’s has been for stretches over the years. That’s how good it is, and our focus was let’s concentrate on being disciplined and staying out of the box.”
The Blackhawks began a six-game road trip by improving the NHL’s best record to 12-4-3 with their season-high fourth straight victory. They’re off to their best start since 1982-83.
The Canucks, who had won three of their previous four starts, slipped to 9-9-1 as the hangover continues from last spring’s run to the Stanley Cup final.
“We’ve got to find ways to string some wins together,” said Canuck winger Chris Higgins.
“We’ve been talking about that for a couple weeks now. It hasn’t happened yet.”
Hansen’s fourth goal in five games opened the scoring against the Hawks, who have become Vancouver’s bitter playoff rivals after facing the Canucks in each of the last three seasons.
“There were a lot of emotions out there,” Hansen said. “Guys were competing, but you didn’t want to step over the line.
“You don’t want to give the other team power-play opportunities. They knew how we had treated them in Chicago and we saw their first two goals on the power play.”
Kane, who converted the first of Marian Hossa’s three assists, said some of the emotion was missing from the rivalry in Wednesday’s rematch.
“But there’s still stuff behind the whistles and stuff you guys don’t see,” he told reporters.
“But that’s part of the way we want to come and play it—keep it tame and try to get them frustrated a litttle bit.”
The Hawks have scored 21 goals in their last four wins.
“It’s good we keep building on leads,” said Kane who will celebrate his 23rd birthday Saturday in Calgary.
“We’ve been scoring a lot of goals lately which is good and hopefully we can keep it up … definitely a good time for us in here.”