Canucks rally over Blackhawks
The Vancouver Canucks scored twice in the third period, including Mikael Samuelsson's winning goal with 4:42 remaining, to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 at the United Center on Wednesday night.
Samuelsson stripped Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane of the puck at the side boards, sashayed closer to the net and unleashed a shot that beat netminder Antti Niemi to the trapper side for the decisive goal, his team-high fifth of the season.
"They made a turnover and I took a whack at it and I got lucky," Samuelsson said. "When you play on this ice late in the periods, you have got to stay with the puck because you don't know when it is bouncing and you never know when you're going to get chances like that."
Three minutes earlier, Blackhawks forward Dustin Byfulien was penalized for high-sticking Kevin Bieksa behind the net and Canucks rookie Michael Grabner tied it 2-2 on the ensuing power play, ripping a shot between Niemi's blocker and right pad from the circle for his first NHL goal.
Steve Berner also had a power-play goal, potting a rebound 46 seconds into the second peroid, and Roberto Luongo counted several acrobatic stops among his 18 saves for the Canucks (4-5-0).
It was Vancouver's first road win this season, and avenged last spring's painful 7-5 loss at Chicago that eliminated the Canucks from Stanley Cup contention.
"Obviously, nothing is going to bring back what happened last year," said Luongo, who was reduced to tears by that abrupt, if not embarrassing, playoff exit.
"They still won the series. We just won a game, but it is nice to be able to come in here and show we can win and just start moving on.
"I was real excited to come back here and play, even though there aren't such great memories of last year. I knew the team wasn't going to have a problem getting up for this one."
"It was really nice to finally win a game on the road and win against a team that sent us home a lot earlier than we wanted last year," said rugged rearguard Willie Mitchell, who helped swing the momentum in Vancouver's favour with a bone-rattling hit on Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews six minutes into the third period.
'It was a clean hit'
Mitchell emerged from the penalty box and lowered his shoulder for a forceful open-ice hit on Toews, who wobbled to the bench and later the dressing room and did not return.
"It was a clean hit," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "He didn't see him [Mitchell] coming."
Toews reportedly suffered an upper body injury.
Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks (5-3-1) with a goal and an assist, opening the scoring on a shot from the point 13:26 into the contest.
Troy Brouwer later tipped another point shot from Keith for Chicago's second goal.
Niemi faced 31 shots in defeat.
"Niemi played great tonight and kept us in the game," Keith said. "We shouldn't be allowing that many shots."
With files from The Canadian Press