VANCOUVER, B.C. – Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane weren’t even born the last time the Chicago Blackhawks had a seven-game winning streak.
Now they’re leading the re-birth of the storied Original Six NHL franchise.
Kane tied the game and Sharp fired the winner early in the second period Saturday night as the youthful Blackhawks defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1.
It was the first time Chicago had won seven in a row since January 1981.
“We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves but we’re having a lot of fun with this,” said Sharp, a 26-year-old right-winger from Thunder Bay, Ont. who leads Chicago with 18 goals.
“This is new territory for a lot of the guys. The playoffs is our goal but we’re really learning how to win games. Guys are bouncing off the walls.”
Daniel Sedin gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead with Vancouver’s second shot of the game but goalie Cristobal Huet shut the door with a 30-save effort.
In the second period, he outwaited two head fakes by Sedin before stoning him on a break-in.
The 20-year-old Kane, second on the Hawks with 16 goals, then equalized after a turnover by Vancouver defenceman Shane O’Brien.
The winger lofted a seeing-eye backhand over the glove of Canuck netminder Curtis Sanford for his 16th goal and fourth in six games.
Sharp gave Chicago a 2-1 lead when his 40-foot wrist shot went post and in behind a screened Sanford.
“That goal Kaner made … that shot … not too many people could put it there,” said coach Joel Quenneville, who replaced the fired Denis Savard four games into the season.
“It was impossible to go in, it looked like, but it still found a way to get in there. He’s got great vision and shot selection.
“Sharpie’s been scoring for us all year. He’s a big part of our offence and a big part of our power play and scores big goals like he did tonight.”
In keeping with the Chicago youth movement, Jonathan Towes, 20, added an empty-netter as the Hawks won in Vancouver for the first time since Jan. 26, 1998 and improved to 18-6-7.
“It seemed like we weren’t very much into the game and all of a sudden we were up one goal,” said Huet who was helped by three Canucks hitting posts but preserved the win by foiling a close-in Pavol Demitra chance late in the third period then beat him on the rebound.
Sharp said Chicago is learning how to win close games in the third period.
“Years ago, maybe even last year, a 2-1 lead in the third period wasn’t necessarily a guaranteed win,” said Sharp who scored twice in a 4-2 victory over the Canucks in October.
The Canucks struggled to finish their power-play chances, went 0-for-6 with the man advantage and slipped to 18-12-3.
“Their goalie stepped up great for them,” said Demitra, whose club squandered a chance to vault over the Calgary Flames and into first place in the Northwest Division. “We got over 30 shots and we got great chances in the second and third and he was there all the time. I think our power play has to do better and that was the difference.”
Kyle Wellwood agreed the Canucks missed several opportunities trying to win three in a row.
“They gave us all kinds of power plays,” he said. “They’re a great team, so you’ve got to finish them off.”
Notes: O’Brien was back on the Vancouver blue-line after leaving Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Edmonton with a charley horse … Canuck fourth-liner Mike Brown has switched to No. 15 to accommodate newly acquired free agent Mats Sundin who wears No. 13 … Brown was a healthy scratch Saturday … Canuck defenceman Sami Salo is expected to miss at least a month with a broken rib … he previously missed a total of seven games with three groin strains.