VANCOUVER -- It wasn't quite the scene Dave Boland remembers from the last time he won a really, really big game here.
That was back when he was a member of Team Canada winning the gold medal at the world junior title in this building, when the players littered the ice with their gloves and sticks to celebrate.
Fans littered the ice with debris with just over a minute to play after the Chicago Blackhawks scored an empty-net goal to put the Vancouver Canucks away in Game 5 of the NHL Western Conference semi-final series here last night.
It was Boland who scored the winner to leave Canada's Team one loss from being eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"It was pretty fun then, and it's pretty fun now," said Boland, who had three goals in the world junior tournament but can't remember if any were game-winners.
This, however, was his fourth goal of the playoffs.
"It was really important to win this game going back to our rink. We don't want to come back here," said Boland, who was left unprotected on the backside and banged in a cross-crease pass from Patrick Kane to break a 2-2 tie.
The Hawks were on a powerplay with Kevin Bieksa in the penalty box when Boland struck at 14:55 of the third period.
"They were pretty tired," Boland said of the Canucks defence.
"Sami Salo was wandering around out there," he added of the Canucks defenceman who missed the previous two games and ended up out of position in front of the net.
Boland made sure his shot was a sure one.
"Roberto Luongo can get over there quick," he said.
The goal by the former London Knights star was followed by an empty-net goal from Martin Havlat. The last-minute tally gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-2 win in Game 5 and a 3-2 series lead heading back to Game 6 Monday in Chicago.
For the first time in the series, the Hawks had managed to score the first goal of the game.
After finding themselves down 3-0, 2-0, 3-0 and 1-0 in the first four games of the series, the Blackhawks finally pulled the trigger to go up 1-0 on the Canucks in Game 5.
But the novelty of holding the early lead lasted only 79 seconds for the visitors.
It was Dustin Byfuglien who batted in a rebound off the pad of Roberto Luongo to give Chicago the lead at 16:35 of the first period.
A penalty to Andrew Ladd, the Maple Ridge, B.C., product who scored the winner in Game 4 resulted in a powerplay goal by Ryan Kesler on a deflection through the legs of Nikolai Khabibulin.
Mats Sundin's goal then came on the Canucks' 16th shot of the game.
It was Henrik Sedin who found his fellow Swede at the top of the faceoff circle to drive a shot behind Khabibulin at 11:16 of the second period for his second goal of the playoffs.
Even though the Hawks scored first, they found themselves down again.
"We are never out of the game," Boland said. "When we get down, we don't feel sorry for ourselves."
Byfuglien's second goal of the game, at 18:22 of the second, was a rare softie which slipped through the pads of Luongo to tie it up.
Kyle Wellwood was presented with an excellent chance to put the Canucks ahead in the third period but put it off the post.
But, as was the case in Game 4, it was the Hawks who closed with the late goals.
TERRY JONES IS A SUN MEDIA COLUMNIST