February 2, 2018 / 6:04 AM / 5 months ago

Gaunce scores twice as Canucks beat Blackhawks

Brendan Gaunce scored two goals as the Vancouver Canucks doubled the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Thursday night.

Gaunce posted the first two-goal game of his NHL career after going all of 2016-17 without scoring. The goals were only his fourth and fifth career markers, his third and fourth of this season.

He was drafted by Vancouver in the first round (26th overall) in 2012, but has been used mostly in checking roles while also spending considerable time in the minors.

Bo Horvat and Daniel Sedin, with the winner, also tallied for the Canucks, who earned their second consecutive victory and third in four games. Defenseman Troy Stecher furnished two assists for Vancouver.

Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat replied for the Blackhawks, who took their first loss in three games.

Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom registered the win, making 26 saves. Chicago netminder Anton Forsberg stopped 17 shots in the loss.

The Blackhawks wanted to deliver a better effort after the Canucks whipped them 5-2 at Rogers Arena on Dec. 28. However, Chicago allowed Vancouver to overcome a 1-0 first-period deficit with three unanswered goals.

The Canucks lost forward Sam Gagner to injury in the first period after he put a heavy hit on Tomas Jurco. Gagner logged just 3:15 of ice time.

Schmaltz opened the scoring for Chicago at 15:15 of the first period as he took a pass from Brandon Saad, swept around a couple of Canucks defenseman and deked Markstrom. With the marker, Schmaltz picked up where he left off in January, when he produced six goals and five assists in 11 games.

Gaunce created a 1-1 tie early in the second as he took a pass off the boards from Stecher, who had just come out of the penalty box, skated into the Chicago zone and beat Forsberg with an on-ice shot.

Horvat put the Canucks ahead 2-1 midway through the second period as he deflected in Stecher’s snap shot from the point. The goal was Horvat’s second in two games. He has produced points in four of six contests since returning from a fractured foot that had sidelined him since early December.

Daniel Sedin gave the Canucks a 3-1 lead at 2:55 of the third period with a nifty mid-air deflection while screening Forsberg on Jake Virtanen’s spin-around shot from the high slot. Henrik Sedin also earned an assist on the goal, which was Daniel’s second in two games.

DeBrincat pulled the Blackhawks within a goal at 10:19 of the final frame as he whipped a shot over Markstrom’s left shoulder. Markstrom appeared to misread the shot to his far side. Chicago had an excellent chance to draw even as Virtanen was penalized for tripping with 7:21 left in the third period, but Markstrom gloved Duncan Keith’s slap shot seconds after the power play began.

Gaunce notched his second goal of the night with 2:58 remaining as he muscled his way through flipped Loui Eriksson’s centering pass over Forsberg while muscling through a defender.

Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson returned to the lineup after being sidelined since Jan. 14 with back spasms.

—Field Level Media

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