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Big second period the difference as Blackhawks down Canucks 5-2

Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin (22) goes head over heels over Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Sheldon Brookbank (17) in Vancouver, Jan. 29, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

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Vancouver Canucks left wing Daniel Sedin (22) goes head over heels over Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Sheldon Brookbank (17) in Vancouver, Jan. 29, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VANCOUVER - Once the Chicago Blackhawks got rolling, there was little the Vancouver Canucks could do to stop a team determined to get back to its winning ways.

Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad each had a goal and an assist in the second period Wednesday as Chicago's quick-strike offence turned a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead in a span of 7:41 to snap a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over Vancouver.

"We kind of lost ourselves there a little bit in the second period. It turned into a little bit of a track meet," said Canucks assistant coach Mike Sullivan. "It wasn't from a lack of chances on our part. We had a 4-on-2 and 3-on-1 that we don't convert, then shortly thereafter one ends up in our net."

Marian Hossa had the other goal in the second period for Chicago (33-10-13), while Saad added an empty netter late. Corey Crawford made 29 saves to get the win.

"They're a good team. They haven't won a couple of Stanley Cups for no reason," said Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who finished with 36 saves. "It's disappointing being up 2-0 and losing the lead so quickly like that.

"We've got to play 60 minutes against teams like that. For the majority of the game I thought we played really well but we had a little bit of a lapse and it's game over."

The Blackhawks' four-goal barrage in the second period—which came on just five shots—helped end Chicago's recent 0-2-2 run.

"They had a few chances early in the game and they kept on pressing," said Luongo. "Once they got one I felt like it deflated our team and they kept scoring."

With the victory, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville passed Dick Irvin to move into the sole possession of third place on the all-time NHL coaching wins list with 693 as Chicago improved to 10-1-3 in the second game of back to backs this season.

"I'm fortunate and happy with the places I've been," said Quenneville. "Took a little while to get this last one, but certainly it's been fun and we'll keep pushing forward."

Chris Higgins and Tom Sestito had the goals for Vancouver (27-19-9), which dropped its second straight. The Canucks hold down the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, but the ninth-place Phoenix Coyotes are three points back with two games in hand.

Vancouver is 2-3-0 in the absence of suspended head coach John Tortorella, who will sit out one more game after he tried to get into the Calgary Flames' locker-room after that infamous line brawl on Jan. 18.

The Canucks have been held to two goals or fewer in nine of their last 10 games and have just four wins in 15 outings.

"We have to fight through this," said Canucks forward Daniel Sedin, whose goal-scoring drought is now at 14 games. "We've got to believe in what we do out there and start making plays—I think that's the main thing. When we have the puck I think we're too passive.

"I think when we have the puck we have to start believing in what we're doing."

Things were looking good for the home side early in the second period after Sestito doubled the Canucks' 1-0 lead with his fifth of the season at 2:44.

But the Blackhawks' fifth-ranked power play finally made a breakthrough against the league's No. 3 penalty kill when Hossa finished off a pretty tic-tac-toe passing sequence for his 23rd at 6:30. Chicago then tied things 3:39 later when Saad scored his 15th of the season on a nice deflection.

A couple of Luongo's Canadian Olympic teammates then conspired to give the Blackhawks a lead they wouldn't surrender. Toews scored his 18th at 10:47 before Sharp rounded out the blitz at 14:27 when he wired a shot farside for his 27th.

"They had a few chances early in the game and they kept on pressing," said Luongo. "Once they got one I felt like it deflated our team and they kept scoring."

Vancouver had a chance to get back in the game later in the period, but the league's 29th-ranked power play, which entered the night on a dismal 2-for-36 run, failed to generate anything.

Needing a big third, the Canucks were unable to find a way past Crawford on another man advantage midway through the period as Toews sprawled on the goal-line to keep Higgins' effort out.

Saad then iced it with 38 seconds left into an empty net.

"I think guys are discouraged," said Sullivan. "We've hit a bump in the road here and we've got to try and dig ourselves out of it. For me, there's no sense putting your head down and shrugging your shoulders. This is an unforgiving league."

The Blackhawks grabbed sole possession of first in the Central Division with the victory and sit second in the conference.

"Things went smoothly for us the first part of the season and going through what we're going through right now is when you find out about everyone," said Quenneville. "(I) still think that stretch hasn't been bad, but it feels so much better when you have that type of effort and get a result as well."

With the Canucks set to begin a five-game road trip on Friday night that will take them into the Olympic break, players from both teams heading to the Games in Sochi, Russia, were honoured before the opening faceoff.

Fans at Rogers Arena were just settling into their seats after the national anthems when Higgins opened the scoring just 16 seconds into the first. Canucks forward Ryan Kesler shovelled a puck towards the Chicago goal that Higgins sent through Crawford's five-hole for his 15th goal of the season and third in the four games.

"Getting scored on the first shift is never a good feeling but we knew that wasn't going to be the difference," said Toews. "We had a great momentum swing in the second scoring four goals like that. It was huge for us."

After taking that early punch, the Blackhawks carried the play for much of the rest of the period but couldn't find a way past Luongo or his posts.

Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson saw his shot from the point deflect off a stick and hit the crossbar before Hossa also found iron moments later.

"I'm sure (the team's confidence) is not at an all-time high," said Sullivan. "The greatest thing about confidence is it's fleeting. You can get it back just as quick as you lose it. It all starts with a good shift and it grows from there. We've got to get that snowball going."

Notes: Canucks defenceman Christopher Tanev was added to Vancouver's sick bay prior to the game, missing his first game of the season with an upper-body injury. Also on the shelf at the moment is captain Henrik Sedin, who missed his fourth straight game, while fellow forward Mike Santorelli sat out his sixth straight contest. ... Before the game, a banner honouring both the men's and women's hockey gold medals at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver was unveiled in the rafters at Rogers Arena. Hall of Fame defenceman Scott Niedermayer—who captained Canada's gold-winning men's team in 2010—and former women's national team member Tessa Bonhomme, who also won gold four years ago, performed the ceremonial faceoff before the game. ... The Canucks' five-game road trip will take them to Winnipeg, Detroit, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. ... Vancouver's next home game is Feb. 26 against the St. Louis Blues. ... The Blackhawks continue their six-game pre-Olympic road trip on Saturday in San Jose.

Follow @josh_clipperton on Twitter.

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