|CHI||0||0||1||(0 - 0)||1|
|VAN||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -Bryan Bickell scored his first goal of the season 1:12 into the third period, and Antii Niemi made 30 saves to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
After Niemi made several great saves to keep it scoreless through two periods, defenseman Brian Campbell helped set up the only goal early in the third, skating in from the point, eluding a check on the boards, and cutting into the crease. He lost the puck in a crowd in front but it squirted right to Bickell at the far side for a tap-in goal behind sprawled goalie Roberto Luongo.
It was Bickell's first goal since April 2007. He was playing just his sixth game of a season spent mostly in the minor leagues, but has spent the last four games on the Blackhawks' top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
Niemi did the rest, making a couple more brilliant stops as the Blackhawks won their seventh straight game despite playing the night before in Edmonton.
He got a glove on Henrik Sedin's wide-open shot from the slot, robbed Alex Burrows with his left pad, and got a break when Alex Edler hit the post with 6:19 left.
The Canucks welcomed top goal-scorer Daniel Sedin back to the top line after missing more than six weeks and 18 games with a broken foot. But it wasn't enough to solve Niemi, who got a rare start after watching Cristobal Huet play his sixth straight during Saturday night's 5-2 win in Edmonton.
Niemi was 3-1-1 with a shutout in five appearances this season, but the lone regulation loss was against the Canucks and the 26-year-old Finn hadn't played in 2 1/2 weeks. Despite that, there wasn't any rust in his game.
Niemi also got a bit of a break when Ryan Kesler's shot hit the butt end of his stick along the goal line on a net drive with 3:18 left in the first period. But there was nothing lucky about the right pad he shot out to take an empty net and sure goal away from Kesler atop the crease on a power play a few minutes later.
Niemi was even better late in the second period, stuffing Daniel Sedin in tight, Steve Bernier on a breakaway and robbing Mason Raymond in the final minute.
Not to be outdone, Luongo, who made 16 saves, got a piece of Dustin Byfuglien's high blast on a 2-on-1 midway through the second period, and got his shoulder on Patrick Kane's backhand on a partial break 2 minutes later.
Kane failed to score for the first time in six games, and was held without a point for the first time in 10, ending his streak at 13 points. But he started the play that led to the only goal with Bickell, who looked woozy when the left Saturday's game after the first period, parking in the crease for a tap in.
Chicago's six-game win streak coincided with the return of captain Toews, who missed six games after being rocked by an open-ice hit from defenseman Willie Mitchell in Vancouver's 3-2 win on Oct. 21. While there was plenty of post-whistle scrums between the teams, it seemed to have more to do with the rivalry built up when the Blackhawks eliminated Vancouver in the second round of last year s playoffs, and less to do with a hit even Toews labeled clean.
NOTES: Chicago forward Marian Hossa, signed to a 12-year, $62.8-million contract in the summer, is traveling and practicing with the team and could return from offseason shoulder surgery Wednesday in San Jose. ... Chicago was completing the fifth of its NHL-high 19 sets of back-to-back games. ... Chicago swept the three-game Western Canadian portion of its six-game road trip.
|Bryan Bickell (1) ASST: Brian Campbell (13), Jonathan Toews (9)|
1 - 0 CHI
|Patrick Sharp Slashing against Kevin Bieksa|
|Ben Eager Fighting (maj) against Rick Rypien|
|Rick Rypien Fighting (maj) against Ben Eager|
|Ryan Kesler Hi-sticking against Niklas Hjalmarsson|
|Alexandre Burrows Cross checking against Andrew Ladd|
|Andrew Ladd Hi-sticking against Alexandre Burrows|
|Dustin Byfuglien Holding against Alexandre Burrows|
|Ben Eager Roughing against Steve Bernier|
|Steve Bernier Roughing against Ben Eager|
|Brian Campbell Hi-sticking against Mason Raymond|
|Mason Raymond Hi-sticking against Brian Campbell|
|SA: 30||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 30||EV: 26 - 26|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 3|
|SV%: 1.000||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 17||TOI: 58:52|
|Saves: 16||EV: 14 - 15|
|PIM: 0||PP: 2 - 2|
|SV%: .941||SH: 0 - 0|