Say what you will about the Vancouver Canucks’ lacklustre start to the regular season, but their power play was on fire Sunday night.
Henrik Sedin had a goal and three assists and Vancouver converted five of six power plays to lift the Canucks to a 6-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
David Booth, Aaron Rome, Daniel Sedin and Dan Hamhuis each added power-play goals and Jannik Hansen had Vancouver’s only even-strength score as the Canucks (7-7-1) handed the Blackhawks their first regulation home loss.
“We haven’t been good enough 5-on-5 to win games,” said Henrik Sedin, whose four points matched a personal high in a game. “But if we play good 5-on-5, our special teams will take care of us most games. It did tonight.”
Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger scored for Chicago (8-3-3), which went 0-for-5 on the power play and has scored just once in its last 26 chances.
The Canucks have been inconsistent this season after advancing to the Stanley Cup finals last spring. But on Sunday, perfect penalty killing and a near-perfect power play powered them past arch-rival Chicago.
Even without man advantages, the Canucks took charge early.
“I feel we got off to a real strong start,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “The guys were focused, executed well. I thought we played a real strong first period.
“In the second (Chicago) took some penalties we made them pay for. That was the game.”
Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Tampa Bay 4, Florida 3 (SO); Dallas 5, Carolina 2; New York Rangers 3, Winnipeg 0; and Calgary 2, Colorado 1.
At Chicago, Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo made 38 saves to help the Canucks end a two-game slide. The Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford blocked 32 shots.
“Obviously their power play was the difference,” Crawford said. “We haven’t seen that from a team. They just held on to it (the puck) for two minutes and kept getting goals at the end.
“I just couldn’t come up with a key save.”
The Canucks and Blackhawks met for the first time since Vancouver eliminated Chicago in overtime of Game 7 of an opening round playoff series last April. The teams have faced each other in the post-season for three straight years, with Chicago winning the first two series.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews couldn’t explain why his team came out flat in what should have been an emotional rematch.
“Our power play, as usual of late, wasn’t very good, the penalty kill too,” Toews said. “But it went beyond that. We didn’t play a very good game all around.”
Booth’s goal was his first this season. He joined the Canucks from Florida in a multi-player trade on Oct. 22.
Rome, who has just three career goals in 132 games, connected in his first game this season after recovering from a broken hand.
Crawford was sharp and made several quick, point-blank stops in the first period as Vancouver dominated and outshot Chicago 17-9. But Booth, who opened the scoring 6:00 in, was the only Canuck to connect in the frame.
After Crawford make a kick save on Booth’s one-time shot from 10 feet out, Booth was left open and popped in the rebound.
Frolik tied it at one with 7:03 left on a soft shot from the left wing boards that Luongo misplayed. The 45-foot attempt struck the inside of Luongo’s left pad and caromed in between his legs.
The Canucks took charge with four goals in the second.
Rome and Daniel Sedin scored power-play goals 3:24 apart early in the period to make it 3-1.
Rome connected on a screened drive the top of the circle at 1:16. Daniel Sedin fired into an empty net at 4:40 after Crawford had fallen following a collision with Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.
Kruger cut it to 3-2 with 4:53 left in the second by plowing to the net and knocking in a rebound. But Hansen replied from the edge of the crease with Vancouver’s only even-strength goal 43 seconds later when Crawford was trapped out of position by teammate Bryan Bickell.
Hamhuis added another power-play goal, shooting in through traffic from the top of the right circle, with 2:10 left in the period to extend the Canucks’ lead to 5-2.
Lightning 4, Panthers 3 (SO)
At Sunrise, Fla., Dominic Moore scored the shootout winner to lift Tampa Bay over the Panthers.
At Raleigh, N.C., Jamie Benn scored twice, including a short-handed goal, to lead the Stars to a win over the Hurricanes.
At New York, Marian Gaborik scored on an odd-man rush and into an empty net in the third period and Derek Stepan had a goal and an assist to help the Rangers beat the Jets.
At Denver, Miikka Kiprusoff stopped 32 shots, Mark Giordano and Curtis Glencross each had a goal and the Flames beat the Avalanche.