Blackhawks earn split in Vancouver

Terry Jones, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:29 AM ET

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks were on the very verge of winning a sixth straight playoff game for the first time in their 39 year history.

The only Canadian team left skating in the Stanley Cup playoffs was, set up to move within two wins of advancing past the second round of the playoffs for only the third time in their entire existence.

Up 2-0 early, for the second game in a row, the Canucks blew another lead to the Chicago Blackhawks.

This time they didn't get a break to bounce back to win it.

This time they gave up five straight goals to lose Game 2 of the Western Conference semi-final 6-3 and head to Chicago today with the series tied 1-1 and Game 3 & 4 set for the United Center Tuesday and Thursday where the the Blackhawks are undefeated this post season.

This time the Canucks only managed to provide themselves with a two-goal lead instead of the three goal margin from Game 1.

This time the Hawks came back with three goals in the second period instead of the third and added two more in the third to get the split in Vancouver.

“What happens when you get a lead?” goaltender Roberto Luongo was asked in the otherwise empty Canucks dressing room after a game in a building turned unbelievably quiet.

“We lose it,” he said.

“I have no answer for that.”

Luongo gave up the same number of goals this night as he did in the entire first round sweep of the St. Louis Blues as the Hawks outshot Vancouver 31-21.

It was the first win in 11 years against the Canucks for Blackhawks netminder Nikolai Khabibulin who went into the game with a 0-10-1 record in that span against Vancouver.

“Those guys are a good team on the other side too,” said the Canucks goaltender/captain.

“We didn't think we'd win this series in four straight,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “It's 1-1 and we're going to Chicago where we'll play our hearts out.

“In the last 30 minutes they out-played us and deserved to beat us. They've got a lot of skill on that team and we gave them some space and time to use it.”

Two power play goals in the first six minutes and 44 seconds allowed the Canucks to take a 2-0 lead to the dressing room after the first period.

The Canucks, who won Game 1 here Thursday on a goal with 1:13 to play in regulation by Sami Salo, took the lead on a power play goal by Salo at 5:35 and another on a five-on-three situation by Alexander Edler just over a minute later.

Unfortunately for the Canucks Salo headed directly to the dressing room after his goal,with only 2:05 minutes of ice time to show for it and was followed to the dressing room by the team doctor. He did not return, the Canucks declaring him out with a lower body injury.

“It's day to day,” said Vigneault, unable to say if Salo would join the team in Chicago or not.

Luongo made the save of the series so far midway in the second period when he dove across the crease to make an amazing stick save to rob Ben Eager of a goal on a round, only to see Patrick Sharp bang home a rebound the next trip down the ice to put the Hawks on the scoreboard.

With Kevin Bieksa and Willie Mitchell in the penalty box and Ryan Kesler without a stick, Chicago scored on a five-on-three of their own, Sharp's second of the game at the 12 minute mark to tie the game 2-2.

Chicago took the lead with a shorthanded goal by Dave Bolland at 16:50 with Patrick Kane off for hooking, making Luongo look like a beer league goalie with a deke on a breakaway.

Ben Eager and Kane scored the third period goals. Henrik Sedin scored on a 5-on-3 for the Canucks with three minutes remaining. Bolland scored into the empty net not long later.

“It was very similar to the first game,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.

“We took too many penalties and got behind. We've still got to learn to keep out of the penalty box. I'm excited what happened on this trip,” he said of winning Game 6 in Calgary and coming directly here to get the split.


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