Canucks blast Blackhawks

Tribune reporter

In the sixth game of a road trip on which most things have gone right, pretty much everything went wrong for the Blackhawks.

The Vancouver Canucks raced to a six-goal lead Saturday night and went on to crunch the Hawks 7-3 at General Motors Place. The loss snapped the Hawks' three-game winning streak and dropped their record on the season-long eight-game trip to 4-2.

The Canucks scored in the first minute of play and then held off the Hawks before a crowd of 18,630.

"No excuses," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "We were ready to play. The game we were looking for was like the last three games. It was the same recipe we were looking for at the start and didn't get it tonight. They got the start, and that probably made the difference."

Henrik Sedin, Mats Sundin and Ryan Kesler scored first-goals—Sedin's at the 53-second mark—and sent Hawks goaltender Cristobal Huet to the bench to start the second. The three scores against Huet came on nine Vancouver shots.

Nikolai Khabibulin didn't fare much better, however, as Steve Bernier, Daniel Sedin and Alexander Edler notched goals in the second for the Canucks.

The Hawks' penalty-killing unit, which hadn't been scored on in the two previous games, had a rough night as four of the Canucks' goals were with the man advantage.

The one bright spot for the unit was Kris Versteeg's short-handed goal in the final minute of the second period. With Brian Campbell in the box for hooking, Versteeg broke free for a breakaway and beat Vancouver's Roberto Luongo with a forehand shot to put the Hawks on the board. The goal was Versteeg's 15th goal of the season and fourth while down a man.

"That's a tough game," Versteeg said. "There were a couple of lucky bounces. I thought we were playing well, actually, in their first period. A couple of unlucky bounces and the puck finds the back of our net a couple of times there, and that got the momentum swung their way.

"I didn't think we played poorly. It was an unfortunate night, but those things are going to happen."

Adam Burish's fifth goal of the season cut the deficit to 6-2 at 7:00 of the third. Burish fired in a rebound of a Ben Eager shot past Luongo.

The Hawks got a power-play goal from Martin Havlat at 9:33 to make it 6-3. With Vancouver's Pavol Demitra in the box for cross-checking, Havlat skated toward Luongo and flipped a shot past the goalie for his 17th of the season.

The Hawks' momentum was halted with 6:51 remaining when Kesler scored on a breakaway to restore Vancouver's four-goal lead.

"We gave up two (power-play) goals in the first period and a goal off their first shift," Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "It's tough to come back after that. Our penalty killing let us down tonight."

Getting his points: After a career-high three assists Thursday night against the Calgary Flames, Matt Walker added another on Versteeg's goal to give the defenseman five points in his last three games.

"I wouldn't be expecting that every night," said Walker, who has been following Quenneville's directive to put shots on opposing goals. "He always wants us to shoot from the point; I just usually never get the puck through. The last couple of games it has found its way to the net is all."

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