Canucks visit Blackhawks for Western Conference showdown

Published March 21, 2012

| Sports Network

The Vancouver Canucks are a struggling team heading down the final stretch of the regular season. A trip to Chicago to battle the streaking Blackhawks may prevent them from getting out of that funk.

The Canucks shoot for just their fourth victory of the month, while the Blackhawks try to match their longest winning streak of the season in tonight's clash.

The Canucks have gone 3-5-2 over their past 10 games, but still hold a nine- point edge over the second-place Avalanche in the Northwest Division with 10 games to play. Though a fourth straight division title seems likely, Vancouver isn't looking like the powerhouse that reached the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

The Canucks were shut out for the fourth time this season on Monday, dropping a 2-0 decision in Minnesota. It marked the first time Vancouver had been held without a goal since Oct. 26.

"[We did] everything except traffic. You can't score a goal in this league if you don't have anyone screening so that's something we need to work on," said Canucks forward Henrik Sedin.

Backup Cory Schneider took a tough-luck loss, allowing one goal on 33 shots, while Minnesota's Josh Harding turned aside all 33 Vancouver shots.

"It was one of those games where Harding played well and made some big saves at the right time," said Schneider. "He was able to control the rebounds and not give the guys any second looks."

Vancouver was beginning a four-game road trip after a seven-game stay at home and trails St. Louis by six points for the most in the Western Conference with a game in hand. The Blues visit the Anaheim Ducks this evening.

The Blackhawks will try to keep the Canucks in their rut and continue their move up the Western Conference. Chicago's four-game win streak has it just two points behind Detroit and Nashville for the fourth seed in the West.

The 'Hawks return home after notching a 5-1 victory in Columbus last night. Chicago scored three times in the first period before sealing things up with a pair of power-play goals in the third.

Patrick Sharp scored twice to reach a team-leading 30 goals on the season, while Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist to become the ninth active player to log 900 career points. Andrew Shaw and Brent Seabrook also scored and Duncan Keith notched four assists.

"We got some fortunate bounces around their net early," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we did some good things and it was nice to see our power play contribute."

Corey Crawford made 24 saves for Chicago, which will try to match its season- high five-game win streak set on Dec. 8-18 despite playing without captain Jonathan Toews for the past 14 games due to concussion symptoms.

The Blackhawks have lost four of their past five versus the Canucks and dropped a 6-1 decision in the first meeting in Chicago back on Nov. 6. Vancouver has won four of its past six trips to the Windy City.

URL

http://www.foxnews.com/sports/2012/03/21/canucks-visit-blackhawks-for-western-conference-showdown/