Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011
Posted Feb. 4, 11:38 p.m. Updated 1:08 a.m.
By Tracey Myers
VANCOUVER, British Columbia The opportunity was there in the second period.
The Chicago Blackhawks were getting power-play chances in a bunch midway through the period. There were chances to erase the bad taste of the disallowed Dave Bolland goal and the allowed Christian Ehrhoff puck-in-the-neutral-zone goal. And there were chances to add to the 2-1 lead the Blackhawks took despite the first-period head-scratchers.
But the power play, the Blackhawks bread and butter, went quiet when it couldve made the difference.
Jonathan Toews, Nick Boynton and Bolland scored, but the Blackhawks went 0 for 5 on the power play, which included 47 seconds of 5 on 3, in a tough 4-3 loss to Vancouver at Rogers Arena.
The Blackhawks played strong 5 on 5 hockey against the NHL-best Canucks. They had great pace. They fired 45 shots on a stellar Roberto Luongo, who stopped 42 of them. And the bad goaltender interference call on Troy Brouwer and questionable Ehrhoff goal didnt phase them much. They answered those with Toews and Boyntons goals early in the second.
WATCH: Brouwer's take on the call
But their special teams cost them. Besides the 0-for power play they allowed the Canucks two goals on four advantages. Daniel Sedin scored the game-winner on the Canucks final power play with four minutes remaining.
(Special teams) were tough, especially when we have the 5 on 3 to distance ourselves in the second. We have to be better on that, said Toews, who also had an assist. Weve had some big games where weve worked hard. The penalty kill and power play need to be better.
The Blackhawks were up 2-1 midway through the second when the Canucks started heading to the penalty box. Then the Blackhawks got that 5 on 3 and the momentum. But 47 seconds later they had nothing to show for it.
That wouldve been real big for us, Brouwer said. Were up a goal at the time and thats a big opportunity to try and put them away and get some separation. But it didnt happen.
The Blackhawks want to bring that 5 on 5 game the rest of this road trip. It was fast, it was strong and if not for a tremendous outing by Luongo it may have yielded them the desired result on Friday. But the special teams hurt, and thats something they dont want repeated.
We couldve been better there, defenseman Duncan Keith said. At the end of the day we get a chance there in the second to get a great grip on things and we didnt capitalize on that. We let it get away, and thats the story.
Brouwer said he was a little surprised he was whistled for goaltender interference that cost the Blackhawks an early lead. But he wasnt raising Cain about it.
Troy Brouwer crossed in front of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo on Dave Bolland's goal that would have given Chicago a 1-0 lead. However, the goal would not be allowed after the referee claimed Brouwer interfered with Luongo while in the crease. (AP)
I dont think I touched him. I think he said I didnt give him space. Its going to be his call and it happens real quick, Brouwer said. (Bolland) saw an overview and said I gave him space. But the ref isnt looking from the sky. Hes looking from the ice and he has to make the call he thinks is right.
Toews also wasnt going to use any calls as an excuse.
We had our chances on the power play, he said. Theyre going to make calls and whether you disagree with it or not, it is what it is. Were not looking at that as a reason we didnt win that game.
Did the Blackhawks lopsided victory over the Canucks on Nov. 20 lead to Vancouvers success since? Perhaps. The Canucks are 23-4-6 since that 7-1 loss at Rogers Arena, although opinions vary if that was the turning point for the NHLs top team.
Possibly, yeah. It was an embarrassing loss, said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. We were playing pretty good hockey before that and that put us back in our place. We knew what we were doing out there wasnt good enough.
Coach Alain Vigneault thought otherwise.
I dont think it was anything more significant than being a tough loss against a real good opponent that took it to us that night, he said. If my memory serves correct, we lost the next night, too (3-2 to Phoenix). You play to win every game, but not going to win every one in an 82-game schedule. We bounced back extremely well.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault wasnt happy with coach Joel Quenneville and what he perceived as running up the score when the Blackhawks beat the Canucks 7-1 back in November.
Vigneault was particularly unhappy with the Blackhawks power-play personnel, which included Toews and Patrick Kane, late in that lopsided game. But Vigneault said thats all behind them now.
Joel and I have kissed and made up. I saw him at the All-Star Game, said Vigneault, who was assistant coach to Peter Laviolette for Team Lidstrom. Quenneville and assistant coach Mike Haviland lead Team Staal. I still stand behind what I said, but hes doing a great job.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.