VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Thatcher Demko stopped 31 shots for his fifth shutout of the season as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Monday night.
Pius Suter and Quinn Hughes scored and Andrei Kuzmenko had two assists to help Vancouver get its third straight win. Demko, who got his seventh straight win and ninth in his last 10 starts, got his eighth career shutout.
Hughes praised his goalie’s performance, adding that Demko is finally getting the plaudits he deserves.
“I think he’s been one of the best in the league for a while now, but in that position it has a lot to do with statistics,” Hughes said. “With how loose we’ve been the last two years he probably hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves.”
Vancouver coach Rick Tocchet called his team’s performance “just OK.”
“We got the two goals and we kind of coasted it in,” he said. “It’s good to grab the two points but it wasn’t a pretty game from us.”
Tocchet, however, was pleased with Demko’s performance and shutout.
“Obviously when you get a shutout it’s always a team thing, but obviously he’s a huge part of it,” the coach said. “I love shutouts. I’d rather win 2-0 than 8-4 any day of the week. It gets you in the game, it means you’re doing the right things when you get a shutout.”
Petr Mrazek had 27 saves for Chicago, which was coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Friday night and has won consecutive games just once this season.
The Blackhawks have lost 17 straight on the road.
“Let’s be honest, our record on the road isn’t great and I think sometimes we’re wading into games on the road,” Chicago’s Nick Foligno said. “Maybe I have a little bit better perspective watching a few games and our tenacity and our compete and our readiness at home, it doesn’t seem to be (there on the road). It’s almost like we’re waiting to see what they’re going to do before we respond and tonight we get caught in that.”
Suter opened the scoring for the Canucks 1:47 into the game after Kuzmenko found him backdoor, with the Swiss forward sliding it past Mrazek for his ninth of the season.
Hughes doubled the lead at 6:40, receiving a drop pass from Ilya Mikheyev and dancing his way past two Blackhawks defensemen for his 12th goal of the season.
“I don’t know how many goals I have from that side, I want to say nine out of the 12,” Hughes said. “It’s definitely something I worked on and lot of my moves are on the left side, being a left defenseman, and just trying to find ways to score and create more.”
Foligno had the best chances for Chicago in the third, firing three shots in a row against Demko on the power play.
“That’s a hard working team, they’re doing what they can right now,” Demko said. “I thought they played pretty well and we had to match that. I’m proud of the group.”
Blackhawks: At Seattle on Wednesday night.
Canucks: Host St. Louis on Wednesday night.
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL