Brendan Gaunce (Vancouver Canucks)

Brendan Gaunce scores twice as Canucks defeat Blackhawks 4-2

His first goal in second period tied the game 1-1, and his second was with 2:58 left in the third

The big smile on Brendan Gaunce’s face spoke volumes.

Gaunce scored two goals in a game for the first time in his NHL career as the Vancouver Canucks overcome an early deficit to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 Thursday night.

His first goal in the second period tied the game 1-1. He scored his second with just 2:58 left in the third period. It came as the Blackhawks were pressing after cutting the Canuck lead to 3-2.

“It’s great to score goals,” said Gaunce. “You gain confidence offensively.”

Gaunce has played 109 games over parts of three seasons for Vancouver, collecting five goals and six assists. The 23-year-old from Sudbury, Ont., once went 95 games without a goal. His previous two goals this season came on the road, so his last goal Thursday earned a huge cheer from the announced crowd of 18,144 at Rogers Arena.

“I couldn’t really hear,” he said. “I was pretty zoned out after I scored. It’s good to contribute.”

During the dying moments of the third Gaunce sent a puck wide of an empty Chicago net.

“I haven’t had many chances at a hat trick,” he said. “I’m going for it.”

On his first goal, Gaunce used teammate Bo Horvat as a decoy before scoring on a wrist shot.

Horvat, who has a history of being a better sniper, had no problems with the move.

“He made the right decision and made a heck of a shot,” said Horvat, who has 12 goals in 33 games this year.

“We are so happy for him. He’s worked his butt off to get to this point. He deserved to get those two goals tonight. He’s been playing great hockey. He’s getting his opportunities. To see him finally get rewarded is awesome.”

Daniel Sedin and Horvat also scored for the Canucks (21-24-6). Defenceman Troy Stecher added two assists for Vancouver, which has won five of its last eight games after going 2-11-3 in its previous 15.

Vancouver also won back-to-back games on home ice for just the second time this season.

The Canucks, who are tied with Edmonton for second last in the Western Conference, are .500 on the road (11-11-3) but have a losing record (10-13-3) at home.

“That’s not good enough,” said Sedin, who scored his 13th goal of the season. “On the road we have been OK. At home, that’s where you should get your wins. It hasn’t been that way.”

Gaunce said the Canucks haven’t given up on the season.

“As cliched as it is, it is our job,” he said. “Guys have a lot to play for still, regardless of where we are in the standings.

“If we make a run, you never know. There are always things to play for.”

Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat scored for Chicago (24-20-7), which saw a two-game win streak snapped. Defenceman Duncan Keith had two assists.

Chicago has not won three consecutive games since a five-game winning streak Dec. 8-17.

The Blackhawks led 1-0 after the first period on Schmaltz’s goal. The Canucks then scored three unanswered to lead 3-1 midway through the third.

“A few breakdowns in the second period cost us the game,” said DeBrincat.

Jonathan Toews said the Blackhawks gave up too many good chances.

“We need to be better defensively,” he said. “When pucks are around our net we have to make sure we are a little bit tougher and we’re not giving them easy chances around our net.”

Canuck goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped 26 shots. Chicago’s Anton Forsberg, who was making his third straight start, stopped 17 shots.

NOTES:

  • Defenceman Erik Gudbranson returned to the Canuck lineup after missing five games with back spasms.
  • Blackhawk left winger Patrick Sharp was a healthy scratch for the third straight game.
  • Vancouver’s Sam Gagner didn’t return for the second period after suffering an upper-body injury when hitting Chicago’s Tomas Jurco in the opening period.

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

WATCH: Fire crews extinguish single vehicle fire

Firefighters quickly douse flames under hood of pick up Saturday

Bortolussi a household name at complex

Cheers echo throughout the rafters of the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex.

What does home look like to you?

Columnist David Zirnhelt drops us a line from Mexico

Mount Polley to begin dredging Springer Pit

Water and tailings being stored in the Springer Pit since the 2014 breach will now be returned to the tailings storage facility.

Update: Snowfall warning ends for Williams Lake Friday, Feb 23

Several centimetres of snow is expected by the afternoon

Evacuated cat finds his way home seven months after B.C. wildfires

‘He just decided he was going on a holiday — an extended holiday’

The way government learn someone has died is getting a digital overhaul

Governments in Canada turned to private consultants 2 years ago to offer blueprint

Bobsleigh team misses Olympic medal finish

Canadian team finishes four-man event 0.84 seconds behind first place, 0.31 seconds from podium

B.C. Games: Athletes talk Team Canada at PyeongChang 2018

From Andi Naudie to Evan McEachran there’s an Olympian for every athlete to look up to

Snowboarders sliding into fresh territory at B.C. Games

Athletes hit the slopes for first appearance as an event at the B.C. Winter Games in Kamloops

Cariboo woman raises funds for Seizure Investigation Unit beds at VGH

VGH Foundation gets VCH approval to begin fundraising for SIU beds; local efforts are paying off

Looking back at the 1979 B.C. Games: Good memories, even better jackets

39 years later, Kamloops is hosting the Winter Games again, with some volunteers returning

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

BCHL Today: Cowichan Caps play spoiler and Nanaimo wins 10th straight game

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Most Read