Chicago Blackhawks fans can breathe a sigh of relief. Their team managed to overcome whatever struggles they were dealing with in beating the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. It was a much-needed win for this team who had lost four straight games. Despite falling behind early, the Blackhawks woke up and played their best game since their victory over Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks (whom they face on Feb. 5).
The Hawks went down 16 seconds into the game when Chris Higgins beat Corey Crawford to put the Canucks up early. But from then on, the Hawks dominated the first period until a late flurry by the Canucks. The Canucks did not make things easier for the road team, though, scoring a second goal early in the second period. However, that woke the Hawks up. They stormed back with goals by Marian Hossa (assisted by Kris Versteeg, who turned it over for the second Canucks goal), Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp in a span of seven minutes and 41 seconds.
Had the Hawks given up any more goals, which it looked like could have happened, it’s possible they could have lost. However, some timely plays kept them in the game, and well, you see the result. Credit has to go to fourth-liner Ben Smith who re-asserted himself as the team’s go-to role-player workhorse, playing his head off to keep them in the game. The same with Brandon Pirri who is starting to impress head coach Joel Quenneville as he called his line with Versteeg and Patrick Kane “dangerous.”
The defense was solid but also got lucky several times thanks to heads-up plays by Brent Seabrook, one of which prevented what could have been an easy goal by the Canucks. The win also puts Quenneville squarely into third in the all-time NHL wins for a coach. Not a bad way to give him the honor!
The last time the Hawks won a big game, it looked as if they were going to build on that momentum. Sadly, they didn’t. Now, however, they have a new opportunity to do what they couldn’t do after beating the Ducks and the Boston Bruins by taking the confidence gained from this complete win and putting it to good use. Their next game is against a good San Jose Sharks team, so the need for capitalizing on this possible momentum is necessary.