Thomas Vanek powers Canucks past Blackhawks 5-2
Dec. 29, 2017
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Thomas Vanek thought it was going to be one of those nights after he was robbed by Anton Forsberg on two point-blank opportunities in the first period.
He was right — just not the way he envisioned.
Vanek had two goals and three assists, rookie Brock Boeser added a goal and three assists, and the Vancouver Canucks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
Sam Gagner chipped in with two goals and an assist to round out the line's 12-point performance that featured a number of jaw-dropping passes, helping the Canucks (16-17-5) to just their second victory in the last 10 games. Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves.
"We played well as a team overall, and our line ... we created a lot of chances," said Vanek, who recorded the third five-point night of his career. "Tonight was just one of those games where all three of us clicked."
Chicago (17-14-5) has lost three in a row after winning five straight. Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman scored for the Blackhawks, and Forsberg made 26 saves while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville credited Vanek, Boeser and Gagner for their big performance, but was also critical of his team's defensive structure.
"All three of them have a lot of skill and they have good patience," Quenneville said. "It was a bang-bang play on all of (the goals).
"Pucks going through us down low like Swiss cheese ... it was too easy."
The Canucks snapped a 1-1 tie with seven minutes left in the second period. Boeser played the puck behind the net to Gagner, and he set up Vanek's 11th goal with a no-look pass to the forward in front.
Gagner then gave Vancouver a two-goal cushion 1:27 into the third when he took a pass from Vanek and beat Forsberg for his sixth of the year. Forsberg got the start after the Blackhawks put Crawford on injured reserve Wednesday with an upper-body injury.
"I thought early on it was going to be one of those nights where it goes the other way," Vanek said. "He made some great saves. As a line, we stuck with it."
Gagner, who once had an eight-point game against Chicago when he played for Edmonton in 2012, has two goals and four assists during his four-game point streak after recording just a goal and an assist over his previous nine outings.
Vanek got his second of the night with 3:31 left when Boeser, who retook the NHL rookie scoring lead with his four points, fed a behind-the-back pass in front to set up his linemate's 12th of the season.
NOTES: Crawford also missed three games earlier this month with a lower-body injury. ... Chicago lost forward Artem Anisimov to an undisclosed injury in the first period.
Canucks: Host Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Blackhawks: Visit Edmonton on Friday night.