#18 Chicago Blackhawksvs.#17 Vancouver Canucks
Written by Matt Severance
Vancouver Canucks (28-34-7 SU, 28-30 O/U) at Chicago Blackhawks (47-20-4 SU, 33-28 O/U)
When/Where: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET, United Center, Chicago
Moneylines: Blackhawks -287, Canucks +253; total: 5.5
It’s two teams going in polar opposite directions meeting Tuesday in the Windy City as Chicago puts a five-game winning streak on the line and looks to take a step closer to clinching the Central Division and the top seed in the West. Vancouver, meanwhile, has dropped six straight and is simply hoping to stay out of the Pacific Division cellar.
Vancouver is just four points ahead of last-place Arizona in the Pacific. It does the Canucks more good by losing as much as possible the rest of the way to improve their draft lottery odds. Vancouver has scored just nine goals in its six-game skid. The Canucks have struggled offensively all year, ranking 29th in goals (2.2 per game) and 29th on the power play (13.8 percent). They started a five-game trip in Edmonton on Saturday and were blanked 2-0. Cam Talbot stopped 33 Vancouver shots. “We hit a lot of posts,” Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin said. “Their goalie played well, but I thought we deserved to score at least a couple.” Michael Chaput played with Daniel and Henrik Sedin on Saturday. Coach Willie Desjardins switched up the lines and Chaput found himself with the Sedins while Markus Granlund moved up to the Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi line. Richard Bachman played solidly in net for Vancouver.
Granlund will undergo wrist surgery and probably is done for the year. “Markus has had an ongoing wrist injury which we’ve treated through regular maintenance and rehabilitation,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning. “Our Canucks medical team and Markus believe that surgery is the best course of action for his long-term health and by having the procedure now it will allow him to have more time to rehabilitate and work out in preparation for next season.” Granlund had 19 goals and 13 assists. Jacob Markstrom won’t travel with the Canucks to Chicago because of food poisoning. Markstrom has been sidelined since late February because of a lower-body injury. Brendan Gaunce (upper body) will not accompany the team to Chicago, either. Nikolay Goldobin (illness) skated on Monday and will travel with the team. He feels better but he isn’t sure if he will play on Tuesday night.
Thanks to that five-game run and Minnesota dropping five straight, the Hawks now have a seven-point lead atop the division and in the conference. On Sunday, the Hawks were in a potential trap game in the second of a back-to-back but beat Colorado 6-3 to clinch a playoff spot for the ninth consecutive season. Jonathan Toews scored twice, and Richard Panik and Artemi Panarin each had a goal in a span of 3:02 in the third period. Patrick Kane scored his team-leading 32nd goal, and Marcus Kruger added an empty-netter for Chicago, which won for the 17th time in its past 20 games.
Toews now has a four-game point streak going with 20 goals and 53 points in 63 games. After 18 points in February, Toews has seven points through 10 games in March. Panarin stretched his point streak to six straight games. Rookie John Hayden contributed two assists. He has generated one goal and three points in the first three games of his NHL career. Not a bad start for the 22-year-old forward fresh out of Yale. Scott Darling allowed three goals on 25 shots in the win. Darling has now won seven straight and improved to 18-5-2 this season with a 2.12 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He’ll likely be headed back to the bench for Corey Crawford here. Chicago center Artem Anisimov missed his third game and right wing Marian Hossa his second with lower-body injuries. Coach Joel Quenneville gave 35-year-old defenseman Johnny Oduya the game off.
The Canucks have lost the past four vs. Chicago. The most recent meeting was Jan. 22 and Chicago won 4-2 at home. Toews scored the tiebreaking goal with 1:18 remaining. He also had three assists. Panik had a goal and an assist and Kane also scored for the Blackhawks. Crawford made 26 saves to earn his 200th win. Ryan Miller was in net for Vancouver.
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Matt has been a sports journalist for nearly two decades. He is a former sports editor/writer at two newspapers and a magazine. Went full-time freelance sports writer in 2008 -- not by choice then but became a life-changing decision in the best possible way. Consider myself expert on all major US sports. If you are looking for Curling or Badminton expertise, etc., I'm not your guy.