VANCOUVER – Jannik Hansen is the first to admit it’s unusual for him to be mentioned among Vancouver’s offensive elite after scoring two goals in as many Stanley Cup playoff games.
“It’s not normal,” said Vancouver’s third-line right-winger. “I’m trying to do my part and if we can get contributions from the bottom lines it’s going to be a big part of our push.”
Hansen got the Canucks off to a positive start Friday by scoring the game’s first goal in a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
He took Daniel Sedin’s pass from behind the net and blasted the puck behind Chicago netminder Corey Crawford from close range at 7:30 of the first period.
“It was kind of a bang-bang play,” said Hansen/
“The twins (Daniel and Henrik Sedin) made a great play behind the net,” Hansen said.“When the other guys look in their direction I can kind of sneak in.
“You know those guys, they’re going to find you if you’re open.”
The goal gave the Canucks early momentum and helped them to a 2-0 series lead going into Sunday’s Game 3 in Chicago.
“It’s always easier playing with the lead, you get a little bit of pressure off of you and you know the other team has to come forward and maybe take a chance or two,” said Hansen.
A dogged checker who punishes opponents with his six-foot-one, 195-pound frame, Hansen has also shown a pair of soft hands. In Game 1 of the best-of-seven series, he scored the final goal of a 2-0 victory on a breakaway.
The 25-year-old native of Herlev is one of only a few Danes to make it to the NHL but Hansen, named the Canucks’ unsung hero this season, doesn’t dwell on his nationality.
“It’s not something I notice on a daily basis,” he said. “I’m just another player on this team.”
Coach Alain Vigneault is hoping for more scoring from the Hansen, the first Dane to play in the NHL’s post-season and the first from his country to record a playoff point.
“Jannik’s one of our energy players,” Vigneault said.
“He skates well, finishes checks and creates things. It’s good for our team to see him finishing. Hopefully it’ll continue.”
While he’s matched Daniel Sedin on the scoresheet with his two goals, Hansen contributes in other ways.
He played on all four lines this season, is one of the reasons the Canucks tied for second among NHL teams for proficiency on the penalty kill and led all forwards with 149 hits during the regular season.
Only Maxim Lapierre, picked up by Vancouver at the trade deadline, was credited with more bodychecks.
Hansen, a speedy skater, said he’s comfortable with the fast-paced style of the Blackhawks in the Western Conference quarter-final match-up.
“We’ve had a lot of good games against them and we know they can score goals if they get it going,” said Hansen whose crafty pass in the third period set Ryan Kesler up with a partial break-in that he couldn’t convert.
Hansen, the 287th pick in the 2004 entry draft, worked hard on his shot this season and matched his career high-nine goals.
He also had personal bests of 20 assists and 29 points while playing all 82 games.
“I don’t know if I take pride in it,” he said of his scoring. “It’s a way to contribute if it’s a big hit, if it’s killing a penalty or a goal here and there, it’s going to help the team out.”
Henrik Sedin said Hansen has shown more confidence during his fourth NHL season.
“Everything he does is with confidence,” Sedin said.
“He’s strong, he’s fast. He’s got the scoring touch right now with a lot of confidence so it’s fun to watch.”
Notes: Hansen has 24 goals, 41 assists and 65 points in 189 regular-season games … He now has three goals and six points in 26 playoff games.