Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault has relied on Cory Schneider in big game situations this year, stemming last postseason until Game 7 of the first round after Schneider lost Game 6. In the Jan. 31 edition of Canucks and Blackhawks, Schneider had 37 saves -- many of them game-savers -- as the Canucks defeat their rivals, 3-2, in overtime.
The Canucks struck first as they appeared to be the offensively superior team, thanks to a solid cycle early on that Ryan Kesler took advantage of. Still the Blackhawks' Jamal Mayers answered in good timing, knotting the score at one.
The score remained 1-1 through two periods, even though Chicago was gaining the better opportunities of the two teams in the middle frame. However, Schneider kept the game tied, making some incredible stops along the way, including a circus save on Brendan Morrison.
Both teams remained tied until Jonathan Toews, who returned Tuesday from injury, and Patrick Kane connected with Viktor Stalberg for the go-ahead marker to give Chicago the lead early in the third. Much like the first score, though, Cody Hodgson replied with a goal of his own to put the game back in a tie.
In overtime, it looked like the Blackhawks would strike first, but once again Vancouver spent good time in Chicago's end toward the end of the extra period and Daniel Sedin got a good centering pass from brother Henrik for the game-winner.
Vigneault said Monday that the reason Schneider got the start right off of the break in an important game against a rival team was because Roberto Luongo went to Florida to spend time with his family. Schneider, who Vigneault pointed out does not have a family, would then get the nod (via TSN.ca).
If you're keeping count, Schneider started against Boston in their marquee January matchup. Still though, especially after the last month, it is Luongo's spot to lose.
Aside from another Schneider win over an elite team, more importantly, this game will set Vancouver (66 points) up nicely for their match against the Detroit Red Wings, to whom they are three points behind after Tuesday's action.
Meanwhile, Chicago is now fourth in the Central, tied with St. Louis with 65 points and behind Nashville and Detroit.