Dakota Joshua and Sheldon Dries scored goals 34 seconds apart in the third period as the Vancouver Canucks battled back from two one-goal deficits to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 and give Rick Tocchet a win in his first game as Vancouver’s head coach.
Tocchet was named the Canucks 21st head coach on Sunday after Bruce Boudreau was fired along with assistant coach Trent Cull. The Canucks hired Adam Foote as an assistant coach and Sergei Gonchar as a defensive development coach.
There was a mixture of boos and cheers when Tocchet was introduced to the crowd during the first period. The game was just 3:30 old when a fan threw a Canucks jersey on the ice.
The Canucks outshot the Blackhawk 48-14 and failed to score on five power-play chances.
Andrei Kuzmenko scored twice for the Canucks (19-25-3) who snapped a three-game losing streak. Elias Pettersson had two assists, giving him six goals and 22 assists in the last 16 games. Bo Horvat also scored shorthanded into an empty net at 18:34, matching a career high of 31 goals in a season.
Patrick Kane and Sam Lafferty scored for the Blackhawks (14-28-4) who lost their second consecutive game.
Vancouver goaltender Collin Delia stopped 12 shots.
Petr Mrazek made 43 saves for the Blackhawks.
The Canucks go-ahead goal came just seconds after Kane whiffed on a good scoring chance in the Canuck end.
Defenceman Quinn Hughes sent the puck up the ice. Brock Boeser tried to bank a shot in from a sharp angle. Mrazek stopped the puck but Joshua chipped it over the sprawled goalie for a 3-2 lead at 11:34.
On the following faceoff, Mrazek stopped a Conor Garland shot. Dries directed the rebound into the net with a shot from between his legs.
Kuzmenko scored his 20th and 21st goals in the second period to tie the game 2-2 after 40 minutes.
His first goal came off the rebound of Ilya Mikheyev’s shot to tie the game 1-1 at 7:02.
Lafferty gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead when his innocent looking shot went through Delia’s five-hole at 12:06.
Kuzmenko tied the game again at 15:47 with a pretty deflection of a Pettersson pass.
Vancouver trailed 1-0 after the first period despite outshooting Chicago 21-6. Kane scored with 2:11 remaining with a seeing-eye shot through traffic that sailed over Delia’s shoulder.
Mrazek made several great saves during the period. He stopped Vancouver’s Curtis Lazar on two shots from in close, got a blocker on a Bo Horvat blast during a power play and stopped defenceman Luke Schenn on a breakaway after he stepped out of the penalty box.
Tocchet had one practice and one game-day skate to prepare for the Blackhawks… . The Canucks wore special warm-up jerseys to celebrate the Lunar New Year. … Vancouver failed to score on a four-minute power play early in the first period when Chicago’s Seth Jones was called for high-sticking. … Kim Sim, Vancouver’s first Asian mayor, dropped the puck in the ceremonial opening faceoff. .. Chicago centre Max Domi was assessed an instigation minor, fighting major and 10-minute misconduct for a fight with Vancouver’s Dakota Joshua at 8:13 of the second period. The Blackhawks saw a three-game win streak snapped in a loss to L.A. on Sunday. … Chicago forward Tyler Johnson, who had 14 points in 22 games, has been placed on injured reserved after aggravating a left ankle injury.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Canucks who play Wednesday night in Seattle. Vancouver returns home to face Columbus on Friday, then begins a four-game road trip Feb. 2 in New Jersey.
The Blackhawks continue their road trip with games in Calgary on Thursday and Edmonton Saturday before returning home to face Anaheim Feb. 7.
Jim Morris, The Canadian Press