CHICAGO – They don't meet very often in the new era of NHL realignment, but there is something about the Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks that brings out the nasty in both teams.
The rivals met for the second of three times – and the Canucks' only appearance in Chicago – during the regular season when they took the ice Friday night at the United Center. The rivalry has been heated in recent seasons after three consecutive postseason battles.
"Every time you play them you still get pumped up for the games and the history that is behind the two teams, especially the past few years," Hawks winger Patrick Kane said. "It’s been a fun rivalry to be a part of. You kind of expect something to happen every game that you play against them. It’s always a fun matchup."
Ryan Kesler scored the winner in the eighth round of the shootout as the Canucks rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Hawks at the United Center. The loss snapped the Hawks’ two-game winning streak and dropped their record to 25-7-6.
Daniel Sedin and Zack Kassian had goals in regulation to make a winner of rookie goaltender Eddie Lack as the Canucks concluded a three-game road trip with the second of back-to-back contests.
Kane continued his torrid scoring pace with a goal and an assist, and Kris Versteeg also found the back of the net, but goalie Antti Raanta and the Hawks coughed up a two-goal lead in the first of three consecutive home games.
Raanta set the tone early for the goalies when he stoned Chris Higgins on a breakaway on the Canucks’ second shot of the game. Not long after, the Hawks found the scoreboard when Versteeg redirected a Kane shot. Lack got a piece of it, but the puck trickled into the net, marking the 23rd time this season the Hawks had struck first in a game.
With the assist, Kane extended his points streak to 11 contests, and is now one game shy of matching his career high set earlier this season. The winger now has points in 23 of the Hawks’ last 24 games as his offensive onslaught shows no signs of letting up.
Kane found the back of the net on his own to make it a 2-0 advantage when he pounced on a big rebound of a Michal Rozsival shot and slid it into a gaping net.
Later in the second, the Canucks cut the deficit in half when Kassian ripped a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that deflected off the shin pad of Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook and knuckled past Raanta.
The Canucks’ Daniel Sedin knotted the score at 2-2 midway through the third when he corralled a bouncing puck and batted it past a lunging Raanta.
Backing up Raanta was Jason LaBarbera. With the Hawks in need of a backup netminder, LaBarbera was dealt from the Edmonton Oilers to the defending Stanley Cup champions last week and the veteran joined his new teammates for the morning skate. He picked up about 30 points in the standings moving from the Western Conference cellar-dwelling Oilers to the Hawks.
“You go from one extreme to the other,” LaBarbera said. “It’s exciting for sure to come to an organization like this and a room like this with this group of people.”