Andrew Brunette knows the value of the power play. That’s how he’s scored all four of his goals this season.
Brunette netted the first of the Blackhawks’ two goals with the man advantage to help Chicago beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Wednesday night.
The victory helped the Blackhawks erase the memory of Vancouver’s 6-2 win on Nov. 6 in Chicago when the opportunistic Canucks scored on five of six power plays.
”The last three or four games it’s crawling, it’s slowly coming back,” Brunette said of Chicago’s power play that was 2 for 3 against Vancouver and is 6 for 14 in the past four games.
”It’s been a point of frustration for everybody here. It’s nice to get a couple, and hopefully the snowball is rolling downhill and we’ll pick up a little momentum here,” added Brunette, who tapped in Marcus Kruger’s crafty backhanded pass to tie the game.
The disciplined Blackhawks didn’t give the Canucks a chance to showcase their top-ranked power play, which has accounted for 23 goals this season.
”We were a little disappointed on how we played on home ice,” Brunette said. ”(Discipline) was the focus coming in.
”Vancouver came at us in the first (period) pretty well, but we kind of hung in there and started taking the game over.”
Patrick Kane scored on Chicago’s second power play to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead midway through the second period.
Jonathan Toews scored his fifth goal in four games, Patrick Sharp added a goal 1:49 later in the third period, and Steve Montador also scored to complete the rout.
Jannik Hansen scored for the Canucks against goalie Corey Crawford, who made 28 saves.
Chicago fired 27 shots at goalie Cory Schneider, who got the start because No. 1 netminder Roberto Luongo sat out after sustaining an undisclosed upper body injury on Sunday. Luongo took a shot off his mask in a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders, but stayed in the game.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said his players were looking to avoid a repeat of the home loss to the Canucks.
”We saw what can happen when you put them on the power play,” Quenneville said of Vancouver’s 26.7 percent conversion rate. ”Their power play is as hot as anybody’s has been for stretches over the years. That’s how good it is, and our focus was let’s concentrate on being disciplined and staying out of the box.”
The Blackhawks began a six-game road trip by improving to an NHL-best 12-4-3. It’s their best start since the 1982-83 season.
The Canucks (9-9-1) had won three of four.
”We’ve got to find ways to string some wins together,” Vancouver forward Chris Higgins said. ”We’ve been talking about that for a couple weeks now. It hasn’t happened yet.”
Hansen scored the first goal with the first shot of the second period. He tapped in Henrik Sedin’s centering pass for his fourth goal in five games and fifth of the season.
The Blackhawks have become a bitter rival for the Canucks as the teams have met in the playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
”There were a lot of emotions out there,” Hansen said. ”Guys were competing, but you didn’t want to step over the line.
”You don’t want to give the other team power-play opportunities. They knew how we had treated them in Chicago and we saw their first two goals on the power play.”
Kane, who converted the first of Marian Hossa’s three assists, said some of the emotion was missing from the rivalry in this rematch.
”But there’s still stuff behind the whistles and stuff you guys don’t see,” he said. ”That’s part of the way we want to come and play it, keep it tame and try to get them frustrated a little bit.”
The Hawks have scored 21 goals in their last four wins.
”It’s good we keep building on leads,” said Kane, who’ll turn 23 on Saturday in Calgary. ”We’ve been scoring a lot of goals lately, which is good, and hopefully we can keep it up.
”Definitely a good time for us in here.”
NOTES: Canucks D Keith Ballard was injured in the first period and didn’t return. … Blackhawks D Brent Seabrook sat out because of an undisclosed lower body injury. He crashed feet first into the boards on Sunday. … Chicago C Dave Bolland returned after missing three games with a foot injury. … With Luongo out, the Canucks called up Swedish rookie Eddie Lack from the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.