VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Marian Hossa looked to the sky and yelled seconds after scoring his power-play goal.
It gave the Chicago Blackhawks a much-needed spark. It also started an offensive deluge en route to a much-needed victory.
The Blackhawks scored five unanswered goals, including four in the second period, as they came back to beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-2 at Rogers Arena on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks snapped a four-game winless streak and moved back into second place in the Western Conference.
Brandon Saad had two goals and an assist for the Blackhawks. Coach Joel Quenneville also claimed coaching victory No. 693, moving to third all-time among NHL head coaches in that category.
It was a victory the Blackhawks needed, given some of their recent efforts. From the second period on it was like someone flipped a switch; scoring four goals within an eight-minute span in that second didn’t hurt. And once the goals started coming, the confidence and all-around play started returning.
“We had a great momentum swing in the second period, scoring four goals like that,” said Jonathan Toews, whose 18th goal of the season proved to be the game-winner. “The biggest thing we’ve had trouble with lately is not having those moments where we’re playing well. We made an effort to change that tonight.”
Indeed they did, albeit after another rough start. The Canucks scored just 16 seconds into the game, a Chris Higgins shot from the slot that starting a scrambling, yet shot-laden, first period for the Blackhawks. Tom Sestito gave the Canucks a 2-0 lead just 2:44 into the second.
Then came the power-play effort from Hossa, who was wide open and ready for Kris Versteeg’s pass. Less than three minutes later, Saad redirected Sheldon Brookbank’s shot to tie it 2-2. Sixty-eight seconds later Toews scored, and Patrick Sharp completed the four-goal turnaround with his wide-angle shot, his 28th goal of the season.
“That power-play goal seemed to ignite our team,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We had a decent first period; a bad stretch at the beginning and the end. But we had a nice play on our power play against a good penalty killing unit. That’s what we needed.”
Corey Crawford did the rest, stopping 29-of-31 shots for his 20th victory of the season.
“We always have confidence in our guys to score goals. We’re never out of a game; doesn’t matter what the score is,” Crawford said. “We work hard to get our chances, and it was definitely a great (second) period for us.”
The Blackhawks have had their ups and downs in January. They’ve played some great hockey and some mediocre fare. On Wednesday, they were looking like the group in November and December that was rolling, confident and strong. They’re hoping it continues.
“These are nights that you have to find your game, not go through the motions just because it’s games 40 through 60. You have to find ways to win and tonight we did,” Versteeg said. “I thought it was a 60-minute game. I thought we played great in the first, then in the second we were a little loose. But all in all we need to find more 60-minute efforts like we had tonight.”