Canucks 4, Blackhawks 1
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 12:39 AM
Dan Rosen - NHL.com senior writer
CHICAGO -- The Canucks needed a trip to the Windy City to find the composure that escaped them at home last week. They used it to get themselves right back in this Western Conference Semifinal series Sunday night.
Vancouver scored early and slowed the pace to its liking in order to stave off elimination with a 4-1 victory in front of an increasingly disgruntled capacity crowd at United Center that for the first time watched the modernized version of its team lose when afforded the chance to eliminate a team.
Game 6 will be Tuesday night at GM Place, where the Canucks were crushed by the Hawks in Games 3 and 4 by a combined 12-6 score. Vancouver will have to find a way to win again to force the need for Game 7, which would be back at United Center on Thursday.
Vancouver got its first three goals from blueliners as Kevin Bieksa scored twice, including a one-timer on the power-play late in the second period. Christian Ehrhoff got the Canucks started with a goal from the top of the right circle 59 seconds into the game.
Alexandre Burrows added an empty-net goal with 44.6 seconds left. Henrik Sedin, Mikael Samuelsson and Kyle Wellwood each had two assists while Bieksa added one. Goalie Roberto Luongo made 29 saves after giving up 11 goals on 68 shots over Games 3 and 4.
Luongo lost his bid for his second career postseason shutout with 7:09 left when Jonathan Toews
redirected Duncan Keith
's shot-pass into the net. But any momentum the Hawks might have had from that goal was gone in four seconds, because Marian Hossa
was caught high-sticking Mason Raymond off the ensuing faceoff.
was screened all night, especially by Burrows, who was in front of him on two of the goals. He made 20 saves.
Perhaps most important for the Canucks was the return of their penalty kill, which had been dreadful all playoffs. Vancouver only committed four minor penalties and killed each one off, allowing the Hawks' power play only three shots on Luongo.
The Canucks gave up six power-play goals on 14 times shorthanded over the previous two games. They had allowed a whopping 17 power-play goals on 48 chances in 10 previous playoff games before their perfect effort Sunday night.
But it was a bloody win for the Canucks.
They lost defenseman Sami Salo to an undisclosed injury late in the first period. He was hit with a shot in his midsection and reportedly was taken to a Chicago area hospital for further evaluation.
Shane O'Brien was cut above the eye when Dustin Byfuglien followed-through on a shot 11:31 into the second. O'Brien left a trail of blood from the left circle inside the Canucks' defensive zone all the way to the visitor's bench on the far side. He returned to the game after getting stitches.
Byfuglien was not called for high-sticking, but he did receive a two-minute minor for slashing Burrows just 49 seconds later and the Canucks cashed in with Bieksa's second of the night.
Chicago committed an irresponsible seven minor penalties in the game, including two each for Hossa, Byfuglien and Ben Eager.
Vancouver had another major scare late in the second period when Daniel Sedin hobbled off the ice with 3:30 left. He finally left the bench about 45 seconds later, but returned early in the third period.
The Canucks fought through it all to do exactly what they came here to do.
Instead of being overaggressive and undisciplined, Vancouver sat back a little bit more than it had been doing and played a more defensive system after taking the early lead. The Canucks did not give up too many second chances or power-play opportunities.
Vancouver got exactly what it wanted out of the first period by starting off with Ehrhoff's quick goal and then adding Bieksa's tally at 14:24.
Ehrhoff scored on what looked like a harmless shot from the right point, but Burrows was in front and got his stick up at Niemi's eye level to distract the goalie. The puck sailed unharmed into the top right corner.
Bieksa beat the Hawks' defense through the middle and scored a nifty goal off a nice feed to the slot from Wellwood, who took the puck wide into the right circle before dishing off to a streaking Bieksa.
Vancouver also killed off a tripping penalty on Burrows and finished off a good penalty kill on Daniel Sedin's hooking penalty early in the second period. They added strong kills late in the second period with Henrik Sedin in the box for tripping and again early in the third when Ryan Johnson was caught holding Toews.
The other thing the Canucks were looking for in the first period was solid goaltending from Luongo. The captain was under siege at times but he made 10 saves, including a snazzy glove stop behind traffic on Patrick Sharp
's point shot at 4:45. He made three straight saves on Hossa in a 30-second span.
Luongo added 12 more saves in the second period and seven in the third.
Bieksa made it 3-0 with a power-play goal 13 minutes into the second period with a hard shot from the top of the left circle. Once again, Burrows was set up right in front of Niemi and he wasn't touched as the shot sailed into the net.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Shift of the Game: Daniel Sedin was called for hooking Jonathan Toews
with 48.5 seconds left in the first period. It was the kind of penalty that could have crushed the momentum the Canucks had built with a strong first period. However, Roberto Luongo came up with a save on Toews before time expired in the first period and then the Canucks killed off the remaining 1:11 at the start of the second period to preserve a 2-0 lead that eventually grew to 3-0. Vancouver could not get a timely kill in Games 3 and 4, but it did Sunday night and it was huge. The Canucks killed off all four of their minor penalties.