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Demko, Canucks keep rolling with shutout of Blackhawks

Vancouver Canucks celebrate Vancouver Canucks celebrate - The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — Entering the 2023-24 NHL season, Thatcher Demko had three shutouts.

He now has five this season alone, after backstopping the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-0 NHL victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.

Pius Suter and Quinn Hughes each had a goal for Vancouver (32-11-4), while Andrei Kuzmenko picked up two assists.

Hughes praised his netminder'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," said Hughes. "With how loose we’ve been the last two years he probably hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves."

Demko stopped all 31 shots he faced in Vancouver's third straight victory.

"That’s a hard working team, they're doing what they can right now. I thought they played pretty well and we had to match that. I’m proud of the group," Demko said after the win.

Chicago (14-31-2) has failed to win back-to-back games all season. Petr Mrazek stopped 27 of 29 shots for the visitors.

Suter opened the scoring for the Canucks in the opening two minutes after Kuzmenko found him backdoor, with the Swiss forward sliding it past Mrazek.

Hughes doubled the lead five minutes later, receiving a drop pass from Ilya Mikheyev and dancing his way past two Blackhawks defencemen 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. It’s definitely something I worked on and lot of my moves are on the left side, being a left defenceman, and just trying to find ways to score and create more," said Hughes.

Nick Foligno had the best chances for Chicago in the third, firing three shots in a row against Demko on the power play.

"Let's be honest, our record on the road isn't great and I think sometimes we're wading into games on the road," said Foligno, with his team losing 17 straight away from home.

"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."

Vancouver head coach Rick Tocchet called his team's performance "just OK."

"We got the two goals and we kind of coasted it in. It's good to grab the two points but it wasn’t a pretty game from us," he said.

But Tocchet 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," said Tocchet. "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."

The Blackhawks and Canucks traded penalties in the second period, with Chicago outshooting Vancouver 10-7.

"When they're (goals) not coming easily, I think we got to find a way to get those greasy ones and get to the house a little more, shoot more pucks, get rebounds," said Chicago forward Reese Johnston. "I definitely had a couple chances tonight, would have liked to bury those to help the boys out. We'll all keep working to get those to go in.”

Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said his team's slow start led to its downfall.

"They flexed their muscles and showed why they're No. 1 in the league and we just had a few too many extended D-zone coverages that led to goals, but after that I thought we settled in," he said.


Blackhawks: Play the Kraken in Seattle on Wednesday.

Canucks: Host the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2024.