Canucks Top Hawks; Welcome to the NHL, Rookie!

Rich Lam

Rookie Jordan Schroeder rewards Roberto Luongo's big night with the lone goal of the shootout, the first of Schroeder's young career as the Canucks defeated the Blackhawks 2-1 Friday night.

It was only a matter of time before rookie Jordan Schroeder had his moment in the spotlight. That moment came when it mattered most, during the shootout. His first career shootout, mind you. Imagine what was going through the kid’s head. Schroeder was able to get the puck to trickle past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford on route to the 2-1 shootout victory at Rogers Arena on Friday night to improve to 4-2-2 on the year.

The Canucks got their first power play chance just over 90 seconds into the game as Mason Raymond drew an interference penalty. Vancouver has had a problem getting shots in early, so this penalty gave them the chance to get in some quality shots early, even though nothing would come of the power play.

With 7:16 to go in the first, the Canucks found themselves in their first penalty kill situation of the night with an interference call against Keith Ballard. The Canucks game into the game ranked 24th in the league in penalty kills. Kevin Bieksa did a good job defending the front of the net, keeping the puck around the outside for the most part.

After several good scoring chances, Alex Edler gave the Canucks the 1-0 lead at 15:42. The goal was set up with a nice assist from Zack Kassian who showed patience on the play as he waited for Edler to catch up on the play.

Roberto Luongo also made some impressive saves in the first, including during the Blackhawks’ power play to maintain the Vancouver lead. Luongo has had the hot hand these past few games, which just makes this goalie controversy, or whatever we are calling it, just that much more entertaining.

The second period proved to be relatively uneventful with the exception of another impressive save from Luongo. The Canucks were able to kill another power play to head into the third period with the 1-0 lead.

The third period began with a tripping call against Raymond at 2:22, but that proved to be no issue for the Canucks, who killed off the penalty without allowing a single shot on goal.

Things got a little chippy when Jonathan Toews collided with Luongo, prompting the loudest reaction from the crowd since Edler’s goal. There was no reaction from the referee, angering fans. If it wasn’t clear before, the fact that these two teams do not like each other became quite evident as the night went on.

At 10:18, Patrick Kane tied up the game handling a tricky pass from that got the best of Luongo, providing Kane with the space needed for the game-tying goal. It was the first goal Luongo had surrendered in 110 minutes.

After a high sticking from Marcus Kruger and a delay of game from Michael Frolik, the Canucks had the 5-on-3 advantage for 40 seconds, but couldn’t manage much of anything off it. A one-timer from Raymond gave Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford quite the scare as it traveled across the crease, but did not find the back of the net.

With five minutes to go in the game rookie Jordan Schroeder made a sensational play to intercept the puck, sprint down the ice, and nearly give the Canucks the lead off a give-and-go type play that probably would have worked had Schroeder not been tripped up as he drew the penalty.

Vancouver was able to get off several hard shots during the power play, including two on goal, but came up short once again. It was the 20th consecutive power play the Blackhawks have killed off.

With less than two minutes to go in the third, Luongo came up with his biggest save of the night. After an initial shot on goal from Brent Seabrook, a mad scramble in front of the net forced Luongo to kick his legs in either direction between the pipes. Patrick Sharp furiously attempted to knock the puck in, but Luongo wasn’t having any of it.

Luongo continued to come up with impressive saves during the overtime period, stopping rebound after rebound, never losing sight of the puck. The Canucks struggled offensively in overtime, and although they were able to get in the offensive zone, they couldn’t come up with any shots.

For the final 1:11 of overtime, it was 4-on-3 as Jason Garrison was sent to the sin bin for high sticking, but with huge blocks from Alex Burrows and Dan Hamuis, the Canucks were able to survive the power play and head to the shootout for the fourth time this season, and the second time in three games.

After none of the first three shooters from either team were able to find the net, it was the rookie Schroeder who was called on. In his first career shooutout, Schroeder was able to get a shot on net hard enough to trickle past Crawford into the back of the net. Luongo finished what the kid started, sealing the shootout win for the Canucks.

Next up for the Canucks is a two-game road trip to visit the Oilers on Monday night, and the Wild on Thursday night. With the short season, these road divisional matchups are perhaps the most pivotal for the Canucks, who are finally starting to pick up some steam after a shaky start.

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