CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawks’ power play came to life to give new coach Joel Quenneville his first victory with the team.
Patrick Sharp had two goals – one with a man advantage – and an assist to help the Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-2 on Sunday night.
The Blackhawks went 2-for-5 on the power play after entered the game 2-for-22.
Quenneville took over behind the bench on Thursday after Denis Savard was fired following a 1-2-1 start. On Saturday night in St. Louis in Quenneville’s first game, the Blackhawks blew a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 in a shootout.
“I liked the response,” Quenneville said. “It was a real emotional loss for us (in St. Louis). There’s a big picture that’s very bright here.
“The skill level of our kids will get better and better. But as a coach, we’re in a short-term business. We want to win hockey games.”
Patrick Kane added a power-play goal and two assists, and Brent Seabrook also scored for Chicago.
Kane, the NHL’s rookie of the year last season, was in tears following last Friday’s practice when he was asked about Savard’s dismissal. Kane has three goals and three assists in the last two games.
“I don’t know how much (the coaching change) affected him,” said captain Jonathan Toews, also a second-year player. “but I guess it motivated him. We’re reaping the benefits right now.”
Cristobal Huet made 28 saves for his first victory with Chicago.
Huet, who signed a US$24.45-million, four-year free-agent contract on July 1, was strong in his third start with the Blackhawks. He’s splitting the goaltending load with veteran Nikolai Khabibulin.
“The way it is now, every chance you have to play you have to take it and respond,” Huet said. “Nik has been playing well. It’s important for me to play well, too.”
Pavol Demitra and Henrik Sedin scored for the Canucks and Roberto Luongo made 22 saves.
Demitra, along Vancouver’s Sami Salo and Darcy Hordichuk were injured,
According to Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, Demitra has a “rib contusion,” Salo a “tweaked groin,” and Hordichuk a “tweaked knee.”
Another team official said Hordichuk’s injury was a mild MCL sprain.
Vancouver has allowed eight power-play goals against in 19 chances in the last four games. Meanwhile, the Canucks failed to convert any of their four power-play chances on Sunday and are 2-for-29 with the advantage.
“We have to find a way to play better,” Vancouver defenceman Mattias Ohlund said. “Maybe there was a goal or two tonight where you can said maybe there was a bad bounce, but overall we’ve had a stretch a games where we haven’t played good defensive hockey.”
Demitra opened the scoring midway through the first period. He connected from just in front of the crease after taking a centring pass from Mason Raymond following a turnover by Chicago’s Aaron Johnson behind the net.
Seabrook tied it just over a minute later on a shot from the top of the right circle that sailed over Luongo’s glove. Kane set up the goal with a pass from behind the Vancouver net.
Sharp was credited with a power-play goal that gave Chicago a 2-1 lead with 4:29 left in the first. Sharp tried to centre the puck to Kris Versteeg, but the hard pass deflected off Ohlund’s stick and past Luongo.
Kane’s power-play goal at 6:58 of the third made it 3-1. He stuffed in a rebound of Sharp’s shot from the slot after Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien failed to convert an initial rebound.
Sharp made it 4-1 with 6:45 left in the third when his shot hit the post and then deflected in off Luongo.
Just under two minutes later, Sedin cut it to 4-2 when his shot deflected in off the stick of Chicago’s Duncan Keith.
Notes: Vancouver D Kevin Bieksa returned after missing three game because of a knee injury. Canucks C Rick Rypien sat out because of an undisclosed injury. … Chicago D Niklas Hjalmarsson missed his fifth game because of bruised ribs.