CHICAGO - It could be worse -- they could be Phoenix, trailing in the series and moving to Winnipeg -- but it's still pretty bad for the Chicago Blackhawks.
They are now standing on the brink of playoff elimination after the Vancouver Canucks took everything the defending champions and their desperate fans could dish out Sunday and deflected it into the corner like a harmless rebound.
After weathering every storm the evening threw at them, the Canucks broke open a 2-2 tie at 6:48 of the third period to take a 3-0 stranglehold on the series.
"We're in an awful spot right now," admitted Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville, stating the fairly obvious
If the Chicago Blackhawks were going to win a game, you had to figure this was it. But, try as they might, they weren't good enough. Not even with seven power plays to work with.
"There are a lot of our guys out there who can get hungrier, go out there and create something five-on-five, and we didn't do it," said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, bitter than a team so close to death didn't fight harder for its life.
"We're going into the third tied up. We've gotta have the best period of the series to pretty much stay alive in this thing, and we give up a soft (Mikael Samuelsson) goal like we did. It's pretty frustrating to see.
"We've only get ourselves to blame, ourselves to be disappointed in. Where we sit now, it's not pretty. It's really frustrating when you don't put it all on the line. You don't find a way to win that one."
It also reflects a little on the Canucks, who haven't blinked once in this match-up of Cup champion vs Presidents' Trophy winner.
"We battled," said Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "It wasn't a perfect game, it wasn't pretty, but in the playoffs you need a couple of ugly ones. We were down, we were up, they tied it, there was a lot of momentum shifts, but we stuck with it."
"Up 3-0 is huge," said Daniel Sedin, who had a goal and an assist to give him five points in three games. "We didn't look at it as a must win or anything, it's a process. But if we go out there and play our game, it's tough to stop us a lot of nights. We're a resilient group. We're going to be behind in games at times but it's not going to change the way we play.
"There's going to be nights where we don't get the bounces or the calls or the kills, but it's not going to happen too often."
It happened last night and they still won. Raffi Torres after promising at the morning skate that he wasn't going to do anything stupid, did. Taking two dumb penalties, including a head shot on Brent Seabrook.
That Torres got two minutes instead of five and a game was a jaw-dropping mistake on the officials part.
"Brutal," said Quenneville. "A major absolutely. He didn't even make through his first games back (from his last head shot suspension)."
Chicago got the boost they needed from the thundering national anthem scene -- still one of the best atmosphere's in sports -- jumping out to a 1-0 lead on their first power play. They also blew 1:17 worth of 5-on-3 that could have put them up 2-0 in the first.
"Our crowd was excited, we came out strong and got the first goal, we were in good shape," said Patrick Sharp. "There's a lot of talk about the 5-on-3, but it was 2-2 going into the third and we're at home. We have to find a way to find a better 20 minutes than that."