The Vancouver Canucks took a huge step toward breaking their playoff jinx against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Daniel Sedin scored two goals and added an assist as the Canucks beat the Blackhawks 4-3 Friday and took a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
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.
“It’s easier being up 2-0 than being down 2-0. We are in this series and we know it’s going to be a battle,” Sedin said. “They are going to come out hard the next game and we need to be ready.”
Elsewhere in the NHL playoffs it was: Tampa Bay 5 Pittsburgh 1; Washington 2 New York Rangers 0; and Anaheim 4 Nashville 3.
At Vancouver, Jannik Hansen and defenceman Alex Edler also scored for the Canucks, who took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NHL Western Conference quarter-final series. Henrik Sedin had two assists.
Ben Smith, with two goals, and Viktor Stalberg scored for the Blackhawks. The defending Stanley Cup champions return home facing a crucial Game 3 on Sunday.
Daniel Sedin, the NHL’s regular-season scoring leader, notched the game 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.”
The Hawks made it close when Smith scored his second of the night at 12:50 of the third, putting a rebound past Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo.
“We had some timely goals. They are a championship team over there. They keep plugging away,” Daniel Sedin said. “They are never out of it. We had our hands full 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 rocked Chicago’s Patrick 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.
The Canucks showed their intensity earlier in the second period, when defenceman Dan Hamhuis was called for interference. Vancouver’s penalty killers played with the Chicago power play like a cat with a mouse.
Centre Ryan 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 first period was a defensive affair. Chicago outshot Vancouver 7-6, but it was the Canucks who scored.
Daniel Sedin, lurking behind the Chicago net, fed a perfect pass to Hansen, who had just stepped out of the penalty box. The big Dane fired a hard shot that beat Crawford on the stick side, hit the post, and went in.
Sedin made it 2-0 on a power-play just 30 seconds into the second. He got in front of the net and deflected a shot from defenceman Christian Ehrhoff through Crawford’s legs.
Smith scored at 14:50 when he took a pass from Bryan Bickell and beat Luongo.
Going back to the regular season, it was the first goal Luongo had allowed in 157:02.
Chicago forward Marian Hossa stressed the importance of beating Vancouver’s superstar goaltender three times.
“It is important. He is a big goalie,” he said. “He played well in Game 1. We talked about getting more traffic. We have to do it even more often than we did tonight.”
Stalberg scored with less than two minutes gone in the third. He bounced Edler off the puck, then fired a shot that beat Luongo.
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.
At Pittsburgh, Martin St. Louis had a goal and assist, Eric Brewer scored and added two assists and Tampa Bay evened its Eastern Conference quarter-final with the Penguins at 1-1.
Vincent Lecavalier, Nate Thompson and Mattias Ohlund—into an empty net—also scored. Simon Gagne had three assists and Tampa Bay rediscovered its high-powered offence to blow the game open with a three-goal first period.
Craig Adams scored for the Penguins.
Game 3 is Monday night at Tampa Bay.
At Washington, Jason Chimera and Jason Arnott scored in a 1:57 span in the second period, Michal Neuvirth made 22 saves and the Capitals beat New York to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series.
The 23-year-old Neuvirth has stopped 46 of 47 shots so far in the series for the Capitals, the conference’s No. 1 seed.
Henrik Lundqvist made 16 saves for the eighth-seeded Rangers.
Game 3 is Sunday in New York.
At Anaheim, Calif., Ryan Getzlaf had a goal and two assists, Ray Emery made 31 saves in his first playoff start in nearly four years, and the Ducks beat Nashville to tie the Western Conference series 1-1.
Bobby Ryan scored two goals, while Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne scored power-play goals in the opening minutes for Anaheim.
Captain Shea Weber had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who couldn’t quite make up a three-goal deficit in the third period. Patric Hornqvist and Joel Ward also scored.
Game 3 is Sunday in Nashville.