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Green ends scoring drought with winner as Canucks beat Chicago 25-14

The Canadian Press
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Vancouver Canucks Josh Green shoots the puck past Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin for his first goal of the season during the second period. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) Author: The Hockey News

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Green ends scoring drought with winner as Canucks beat Chicago 25-14

The Canadian Press
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First, he gave teammate Alex Burrows seven points on the Grey Cup game and the B.C. Lions beat that spread with a 25-14 win over the Montreal Alouettes. He also won a second bet with Burrows, a Montreal native, by accurately predicting Markus Naslund would score the first goal of the Vancouver Canucks' 2-1 NHL win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

His luck didn't run out when he had a chance to bury the winner.

"It was nice to get a lucky break tonight." said Green, who admitted the drought-ending goal lifted a load off his mind. "It feels nice, especially when the team wins."

Green, a six-foot-three, 215-pound fourth-liner from Camrose, Alta. who signed as a free agent with Vancouver in 2005, showed good anticipation when he parked in front of the net as Patrick Coulombe shot from the Chicago blue line.

"I knew the shot was going to be coming from the right side," said Green who celebrated his 29th birthday on Thursday. "I tried to find an area where there was nobody standing and I just got some luck.

"The puck jumped right on my stick and I was able to jam it in."

It was almost as good as winning wagers from Burrows.

"It was a tough day for Alex," Green said. "I'm sure he's happy for me but I know he's disappointed in the Als' losing but that's the way it goes sometimes."

Naslund scored on an early power play when Daniel Sedin's back pass found its way through sticks in front of Chicago netminder Nikolai Khabibulin.

"It was beautiful," Naslund said of the set-up. "I was hoping that he saw me and he did. It was just a great play."

The goal was Naslund's third in two games and a team-leading tenth as the Canucks swarmed around the Blackhawks' net.

"Khabibulin played great for them," Naslund said. "We did a lot of good things and created a lot of opportunities. One of these days they're all going in."

The Canucks are still goal-starved as they begin a three-game road trip Wednesday in Detroit. The have scored two or fewer goals in eight of their last nine games.

Tuomo Ruutu gave Chicago a 1-1 tie by firing Radim Vrbata's centring pass past goalie Roberto Luongo after a turnover in the Vancouver zone.

Then it became a duel between two of the highest paid netminders in the NHL but Khabibulin, who made 42 saves in a 4-3 shootout win Friday in Anaheim, was the busiest as the Canucks outshot the Blackhawks 39-23.

"He was the difference tonight," Green said of the Chicago netminder. "He played well and gave them a chance to win. We threw everything we had at him."

Chicago defenceman Adrian Aucoin said his club relied on Khabibulin to stay in the game after the goalie robbed Naslund in the third period, then foiled Brendan Morrison on another close-in chance before denying Matt Cooke on the rebound.

"I think he likes facing a lot of shots," Aucoin said. "We don't want to give up 30-40 shots a game but on our penalty kill, it is what it is, and we gave a lot of shots away."

Khabibulin, playing his second game after missing nine with a broken index finger on his blocker hand, didn't seem to mind the Vancouver barrage.

"If I can see them coming, then it's all right facing a lot. I just wanted to keep us in the game."

Luongo, who angrily swept the Ruutu puck out of his net in the first period, was solid for the rest of his 22-save performance.

"This was a real confidence booster for me," Luongo said. "I felt I was sharp on my movements so it's good to get a good one under your belt before you head out on the road.

"Khabi made some big saves and you know when he's on top of his game it's hard to get some goals."

NOTES: Canuck Taylor Pyatt and Hawk Jim Vandermeer had a lengthy scrap in the third period ... Green is a regular this season after playing 33 games for Vancouver last year when he was called up nine times from AHL Manitoba ... Winnipeg native Duncan Keith played his 100th NHL game on the Chicago blue line ... the injury-plagued Blackhawks have had 15 new faces in the lineup this season ... Vancouver centre Jan Bulis was back on the ice after missing Saturday's practice because of the flu.

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Green ends scoring drought with winner as Canucks beat Chicago 25-14