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Blackhawks lose in shootout to Canucks
The kindly puckheads at the Canadian cable-television hockey mother ship produced this statistic in advance of the Blackhawks attempting Friday to solve Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo:
Luongo has faced more shotsin excess of 4,000over the last two seasons than any NHL goalie.
Across the ice would be Patrick Lalime, whose personal shots-against account was a bit leaner: Since last April he has faced 34 shots. Total.
He stopped all of those, though, for the Hawks on Feb. 7 against the same Canucks. And form followed Friday, with each offense attempting to prove less middling than the other.
It wasn't until the teams were forced to score, basically, that Vancouver emerged with a 2-1 shootout victory at the United Center.
Luongo was at his best when it mattered, stoning the Hawks' Martin Havlat and Martin St. Pierre in the shooutoutafter denying Havlat on a breakaway as time expired in overtime.
Vancouver's Trevor Linden and Brendan Morrison converted their shootout chances to seal the victory.
"We had a lot of chances to win the game," Hawks coach Denis Savard said. "We faced the best goaltender in the league in Luongo. I don't think he has had many bad games, if he has had any."
The game was scoreless through two periods before the Hawks struck firstwith a bit of unwitting oomph provided by the Canucks' Morrison.
On a faceoff in the Vancouver zone, Morrison appeared to pull the puck back as much as St. Pierre sent it on goal.
Either way it zinged toward Luongo and glanced off to the Hawks' Patrick Sharp, who collected the rebound and deposited it high on Luongo's glove side for a 1-0 lead.
The Canucks solved Lalime minutes later. Vancouver winger Matt Cookewho hadn't scored in his last 15 gamessomehow zipped a slap shot past Lalime at the 10-minute-27-second mark to tie matters at 1-1.
"That was just a bad goal," Lalime said.
The Hawks' power play once again failed miserably in the extra period after Morrison was sent off for holding.
Then Havlat was denied at the hornwith some looking for a penalty shot after the Canucks' Jan Bulis was whistled for hooking on the play.
"It's not a penalty shot," Savard said. "We got clear, we got a chance off it. Good call by the referees."
That was among a modest rush of offense late, compared to the intermittent flickers in the first two periods.
Luongo did require some acrobatics early, as he drifted wide of the crease not four minutes into the game and got caught on his rear end, only to snuff a Denis Arkhipov shot with his glove on a lunge.
Lalime, making his second start since September back surgery, recorded 28 saves in regulation and overtime but couldn't match Luongo's stinginess in the shootout.
"I think we could've played better," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "Our top players could have played better. But it wasn't the case. The case was Roberto gave us a chance."