VANCOUVER, B.C. – A productive power play helps but the Vancouver Canucks can’t expect it to be the difference every game, says Mats Sundin.
Especially after they are still digging out from being snowed under by an eight-game NHL losing streak. The Canucks capitalized four times with the man advantage Saturday in a 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks to win two in a row for the first time since mid-December.
“It was one of those games when our power play scored … it felt like every time on the ice and the game was over,” said Sundin who scored once and drew two assists with Hawks in the penalty box.
“I think it’s important to realize that we did get a lot of our goals on the power play. Five-on-five, I thought it was pretty close.
“Even though the score was the way it was tonight we need to realize we got some good bounces and some quick goals tonight that might not come the next game.”
Henrik Sedin scored in the first minute and Sundin, playing his second game on a line with Ryan Kesler and Pavol Demitra, counted on the power play two minutes, nine seconds later.
The Canucks led 3-0 and were two-for-two with the man advantage when Kesler scored the first of his two goals and chased starting goalie Cristobal Huet, who faced nine shots in 20 minutes.
Nikolai Khabibulin replaced Huet to start the second period but Steve Bernier backhanded a rebound behind him just over two minutes later.
And Khabibulin didn’t help himself when he played the puck in the no-touch area outside the trapezoid for a delay-of-game penalty after Jonathan Toews took a high-sticking double minor.
Daniel Sedin scored during the two-man advantage by converting Sundin’s cross-crease pass.
Alex Edler, who also had three assists, blasted the fourth power-play goal between Khabibulin’s legs as Vancouver forged a 6-0 lead.
Kesler, who banked in one goal off a defenceman, said confidence from Tuesday’s 4-3 slump-busting win over Carolina was the key.
“We did have a good start tonight, that was the most important part of the game.” said Kesler, who choked off a Chicago rally with a breakaway goal that was his fifth in three games and 14th of the season.
“I think it’s human nature to let up a little bit but we had a good last 10 minutes of the game.”
Hard work on the power play helped too.
“We were doing all the right things,” Kesler said. “It was just a matter of time when the puck was going to start going in the net. We got a couple of lucky bounces but we’ll take them.”
Kris Versteeg, on a short-handed breakaway, Adam Burish and Martin Havlat, with his 17th of the season on a power play, scored for the Hawks who lost to a Canadian team for the first time in 12 games.
The Canucks improved to 24-20-8 as the two wins followed nine consecutive home-ice losses. They moved into seventh place in the tight Western Conference, a point ahead of Minnesota and Edmonton who face each other Sunday.
The Blackhawks saw their three-game win streak end and slipped to 29-14-8 but Versteeg said they didn’t give up when it was 6-0 as Chicago outshot Vancouver 39-26.
“We just want to keep coming,” said Versteeg, who leads the Hawks with four shorthanded goals.
“It’s not only for this game. It’s for the next game. We want to show our character and show that we never give up.”
Defenceman Brent Seabrook, who had a minus-3 night, said the Canucks made it tough to come back with their power-play goals.
“I think we did a good job in the second and third (periods) but to give up those goals early, those penalty-kill goals in the first half of the second period kill a team,” Seabrook said.
Notes: Sundin has four goals and eight points in 11 games with Vancouver but was minus-1 on the night. … It was the sixth of an eight-game road trip for the Blackhawks, the longest in the NHL this season. … The Canucks leave Monday on a travel odyssey that will see them play in eight cities in 15 days but one game will be in Vancouver Feb. 15 against Montreal. … Brent Sopel, a 1995 Vancouver draft pick, is recovering from elbow surgery after 23 games with Chicago. … Hawks Seabrook, Andrew Ladd, Colin Fraser and Troy Brouwer played minor hockey together in the Vancouver area.