Canucks pay the penalty as Hawks swoop for five first-period goals

The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-3 to gain a share of first place in the Western Conference.

It was supposed to be a showdown between two of the hottest teams in the NHL, and if there were any lingering doubts about how the Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks felt about each other they were dispelled when the teams collected 12 minutes in penalties in the first 37 seconds. But the Hawks were scoring as well as brawling, and the result was never in doubt on Friday when they sprinted to a 5-1 lead by the end of the opening period, chased the Vancouver goalie, Roberto Luongo, from the game and cruised to an easier than the scoreline indicated 6-3 win and a share of first place in the Western Conference.

The result might not have been in doubt, but the friction continued; overall there were 50 minutes in penalties, 28 of them to the Canucks. Andrew Ladd, Duncan Keith, Troy Brouwer, Kris Versteeg and Jordan Henry scored for the Hawks in the first period, with Ryan Kesler finding the net for the Canucks. Vancouver's Alex Burrows and Chicago's Marian Hossa traded goals in the second period before Mikael Samuelsson scored for Vancouver in the third.

A delighted Keith said: "We have a good rivalry with these guys, so we wanted to come out hard and set the tone early. It was good win. We know these guys have a good team and we might we might see them down the road. We were trying to do our thing. Getting the puck down low and creating havoc." It was the 10th away game in a row for the Canucks, who are still in sixth place overall in the NFL despite their extended spell on the road. Their home ice was used for the Winter Olympics and they have not played in Vancouver since January 30.

In other NHL action, Daymond Langkow, Curtis Glencross and Eric Nystrom scored second- period goals to push the Calgary Flames to a 5-3 home win over the New Jersey Devils. The Flames scored five goals in sucession after New Jersey's Zach Parise opened the