VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Canucks got revenge on the Blackhawks the best way they knew how: On the scoreboard.
In the first meeting between the teams since defenseman Duncan Keith injured the Canucks’ Daniel Sedin with an elbow to the head late last season, Vancouver stuck to business and grinded out a 2-1 shootout victory in front of a crowd of 18,910 on Friday night at Rogers Arena.
It’s a loss that could hurt the Hawks even more as Dave Bolland left the game in the third period with a right leg injury. Bolland was helped to the dressing room and coach Joel Quenneville said the center would be further assessed on Saturday.
Jordan Schroeder scored the winner in the shootout and the Canucks’ Robert Luongo out-dueled Corey Crawford in goal as the Canucks handed the Hawks their second consecutive defeat after starting the season with six wins in a row. The loss dropped the Hawks to 6-0-2, but they are still tied with the most points in the NHL with 14.
“Both teams were playing a smart game and taking care of the puck and not putting it in spots where they could get in trouble,” said Crawford, who made 21 saves in regulation and three more in the shootout before Schroeder beat him. “It was kind of a chess game for a little bit there.”
It was quite the opposite of what many were expecting as the rivalry between the teams is at a fever pitch following Keith’s elbow in the final regular-season meeting on March 21, 2012. Instead of a high-paced, hard-hitting contest, it was more cat-and-mouse with the Canucks avoiding the trap.
“It stings,” Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “We really wanted two points out of this game. We had a pretty slow first period and we started to take over the game a little bit in the second and we finished the game pretty well.
“We had a couple of shots off the posts but couldn’t find a way to get that second goal.”
Alexander Edler put the Canucks in front late in the first period as Vancouver took advantage of some room after Keith lost his stick. Zack Kassian faked a shot and found Edler in the high slot with a pass and the defenseman rifled a shot past Crawford to the glove side.
Offensively, the Hawks were flat most of the game with the exception of rookie Brandon Saad. The winger repeatedly took the puck to the net and twice created Canucks penalties but the Hawks were unable to cash in.
Luongo had a strong night, with his best saves coming in the second when he got his left arm on Saad’s attempt from in close and later flashed his glove to snare a rocket from Bryan Bickell.
The Hawks finally solved Luongo when Andrew Shaw’s cross-crease pass found Patrick Kane and the winger fired it into the open net to tie it. After an overtime in which the Hawks had the better of the play, the game went to a shootout — the second in a row for the Hawks, who lost to the Wild 3-2 on Wednesday night.
“It’s tough to lose in a shootout,” said Kane, who along with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Nick Leddy failed to score in it against Luongo. “It’s something I have to be better in and the team as well. It’s going to be crucial points down the stretch but it would be nice to get them back. It was also crucial to get one point in coming back to tie it up.”
“They’re a tough team,” Kane added. “They’re always going to be a big rival and come out and play hard against us, especially in their building. The most important thing now is to build off this a little bit and regroup for (Saturday).”
The Hawks will next play the Flames in Calgary on Saturday night and enter that game having compiled at least one point in each outing.
“We’re happy,” Quenneville said. “We’ve gotten some overtime games now, the last couple (had) tough endings. At the same time, if you get points you’ll be putting yourself in a good spot.
“I like the way we played from start to finish. I measure our team game by what we give up and I was very happy with what we did in that area.”