Cory Schneider is making the most of his rare starts.
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Schneider made 37 saves against the playoff rival Chicago Blackhawks in Vancouver’s 3-2 overtime victory on Tuesday night.
It was Schneider’s third start of the month in place of starter Roberto Luongo, all wins. He stopped 39 shots in a 4-3 win against Boston on Jan. 7.
”Quality over quantity, right?” Schneider said after posting his 11th win of the season and fourth in a row. ”It’s exciting to get these opportunities. I don’t get them a whole lot because of the way Roberto plays and he’s big in big games.”
Schneider, who will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, is constantly mentioned when fans talk about potential trades.
”For me, it’s an opportunity and I can’t let them slip by,” Schneider said of getting starts in big games. ”I can’t afford to have a bad game. In the first period it was a little … getting my timing back (after the All-Star break).”
Daniel Sedin’s 22nd goal of the season at 3:37 of overtime won it for the Canucks, who also got goals from Ryan Kesler and rookie Cody Hodgson.
Jamal Mayers and Viktor Stalberg had the goals for Chicago, and Corey Crawford had 30 saves. The Blackhawks have lost three straight.
Schneider made many key saves to preserve a 1-1 tie when Vancouver was outshot 18-6 in the middle period.
”He made some unbelievable stops,” said Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa. ”They had a lot of odd-man rushes and he made a lot of side-to-side stops (which) are not easy to do. He’s in position all the time.”
Schneider denied Stalberg again when the Chicago forward broke in alone on a pass from Patrick Kane then robbed Andrew Shaw on the rebound.
Schneider brought the crowd to its feet with 4:23 remaining in the second period when he foiled Brendan Morrison after misplaying the puck behind his own net. The Canucks goalie was prone on the ice but somehow got an arm on Morrison’s shot when the Blackhawks’ newcomer fired at a nearly wide-open net.
”I botched it behind the net,” said Schneider, who had help from defenseman Alex Edler as he scrambled back to his crease where he flopped as Morrison shot. ”I just remember reaching as far as I could and the puck hit me. I was more upset with myself than happy about the save.”
On the winning play, Daniel Sedin was right in front of Crawford to snap home brother Henrik Sedin’s centering pass from behind the net and give the Canucks their third straight win.
”We were able to hold on to the puck for a while and Danny gave it to me behind the net,” said Henrik Sedin, who won the offensive zone faceoff. ”He knows where to go so it wasn’t a tough pass to make.”
Stalberg, who had chances earlier in the game, gave Chicago a 2-1 lead 1:17 into the third period when he banked a shot in off Canucks defender Alex Edler and behind Schneider.
Hodgson took advantage of a turnover by Stalberg less than three minutes later, tying the score with his 14th goal of the season – and fourth in five games. Jannik Hansen found Hodgson alone at the Chicago blue line and the Canucks forward deked Crawford twice before shooting past his glove.
Chicago almost won it in regulation when Kane’s shot hit defender Sami Salo and bounced off the post at the end of a Blackhawks power play.
The Blackhawks got a boost at the start of the game when captain Jonathan Towes (arm) and winger Patrick Sharp (hand) returned from injuries. However, Kesler opened the scoring by sending a shot off the shaft of defender Duncan Keith’s stick for his 14th goal.
The score followed several Canucks chances when Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson struggled to get off the ice after blocking a shot. Hjalmarsson later returned.
Mayers, a fourth-line winger, tied it at 11:11 of the first for Chicago. It was his fourth goal of the season and first in 19 games as the Canucks were scrambling to clear the puck out of their zone.
Schneider had to be sharp late in the period when he came across his crease to stop Towes’ deflection and Stalberg’s attempt to bury the rebound.
NOTES: Sharp was out eight games while Toews returned after missing one start. … Morrison made his Chicago debut after being dealt Friday by the Calgary Flames. He was with the Canucks from 2000-08. The Blackhawks are his seventh NHL team. The Blackhawks have eight games remaining on their season-high road trip which ends Feb. 16 against the Rangers.