By Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – A night that started with a tribute to Daniel Sedin ended with the fourth line stealing the show.
Jannik Hansen scored the first hat trick of his career and Bo Horvat and Derek Dorsett combined for five assists Sunday as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Chicago Blackawks 4-1.
Radim Vrbata had the other goal and Ryan Miller made 24 saves as Vancouver (14-6-1) celebrated Sedin’s 1,000th NHL game with a hard-fought victory.
“We wanted to get the win for him. It’s a measuring stick. Chicago is a very good team,” said Hansen. “We just don’t want to be satisfied with winning a game here and there. We want to be the team that other teams are chasing.”
Hansen, who now has eight goals on the season and five in the last three games, snapped a 1-1 tie at 6:24 of the third, deflecting a Dorsett shot from the boards into the top corner.
“We strive this year to make it a four-line team. It’s not a matter of one, two, three (or) four,” said Hansen. “Everyone knows the (Sedin) twins are going to get their matchup every night.
“After that it’s up to the nine other guys to supply the secondary scoring. As long as we can do that we’ve got a chance to win games.”
Horvat finished with the first three assists of his NHL career, while Dorsett chipped in with two of his own for Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins, who appears to have found a fourth line he can trust â€” something that predecessor John Tortorella could not last season.
“Bo’s been real good in the faceoff circle. They start with the puck lots of times. I think that makes a difference. They play smart. They don’t complicate it,” said Dejardins. “Jannik had a great game going to the net and when you go to the net good things can happen.”
Horvat, who finished 13 for 16 on faceoffs, continued to make a strong case to stay with the Canucks instead of going back to junior.
“We’re pretty confident as a line that we can go out there against some tough guys and some tough players,” said Horvat, who played his eighth NHL game on Sunday. “The more I play and the better I play, the harder the decision is going to be on them. Hopefully I’m making it tough.”
Horvat beat Jonathan Toews, a player he tried to emulate as a youngster, on one of those draws in the moments leading up to Hansen’s winner.
“Believe it or not that’s my idol,” Horvat said with a smile. “That’s the guy I wanted to model my game after and that’s the guy I watched growing up playing in the NHL. To take a faceoff against him a couple times and to be on the same sheet of ice as him, it’s pretty cool.”
Dorsett said the 19-year-old centre who scored his first goal in Thursday’s shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks has impressed as he approaches the critical ninth NHL game for junior-age players trying to stick.
“The way (Horvat) carries himself on and off the ice is like he’s a 10-year vet,” said Dorsett. “He’s a nice kid, he wants to learn and that’s all you can ask for.
“I’d be happy to play with him the rest of the year.”
Kris Versteeg had the only goal for Chicago (12-8-1), which got 26 saves from Cory Crawford.
“They played well, they played hard,” said Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, whose team came in having given up a league-low eight goals in the third period. “They had a real purpose to the way they played.”
Chicago had a power play with about eight minutes left in the third, but Vancouver’s penalty kill was up to the task. The Blackhawks, playing their second of a back-to-back and third game in four nights, pressed for the tie late, but were caught out on a rush when Vrbata scored his 10th of the season at 17:36.
“We rolled four lines, we were fresh, we did all the little things that we had to do be successful and everyone’s buying in,” said Daniel Sedin, who was honoured in a pre-game ceremony. “That’s a lot of fun when you can do that. No one feels the pressure to score each and every game, but everyone knows they can do it. It’s a great feeling.”
Hansen, who had 11 goals all of last season, then won a race for the puck and scored into an empty net with 42 seconds left to add the exclamation point.
“It’s been a while. I think it was back when I was playing in Denmark,” Hansen said of the last time he recorded a hat trick. “It’s extremely nice to get it (but) it’s not one of those things I have on my bucket list.”
The Blackhawks came in having won three straight â€” including Saturday’s 7-1 thrashing of the Edmonton Oilers â€” and five of their last six, but were down 1-0 after the first period before starting to impose their will as the second wore on.
Versteeg, who came in with two goals and four assists in his last three games, scored his seventh of the season to tie things at 7:55 on the power play, deflecting home a point shot from Duncan Keith.
The Canucks had a great chance to restore the lead on a man advantage of their own later in the period, but Crawford robbed Henrik Sedin with the heel of his skate.
“They’ve had a good start to the season,” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. “It seems like a lot of their guys are re-energized, motivated, they get good goaltending and they’ve had solid contributions from everyone. You look at their so-called third or fourth line tonight and they had three goals.”
Vancouver opened the scoring at 13:13 of the first on the power play when Dorsett’s pass glanced off Horvat’s stick right to Hansen, who scored over Crawford’s blocker.
“Confidence is a funny thing,” said Hansen. “Once the puck goes in you feel like every shot you take might have a chance.”
Notes: Henrik Sedin played his 1,000th game with Vancouver in March. … Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis sat out with a lower-body injury after getting hurt on Thursday. … Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. … The Canucks host Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday before starting a season-high seven-game road trip in Columbus against the Blue Jackets on Friday. … The Blackhawks continue their six-game road trip on Wednesday night against the Colorado Avalanche.