Canucks get sweet redemption

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:21 AM ET

CHICAGO –For a while there you had to wonder if this was some sort of crazy rope-a-dope deal.

That maybe the Chicago Blackhawks plan was to let the Vancouver Canucks wear themselves out on offence before taking over and putting them away every single game they play.

For the third straight game in what is already a very weird Western Conference semi-final, the Canucks took a significant lead. This time, however, they weren't as dopey.

“They had the lead for the third time and this time they're sitting there telling themselves 'We can't do that again'” said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.

“They closed it out this time.”

After blowing a 3-0 lead in which the Hawks managed to tie it 3-3 before losing Game 1 in the final minutes of regulation, Vancouver took a 2-0 lead in Game 2 and ended up losing 6-3.

On Tuesday night the Canucks set themselves up with a 3-0 lead again.

And while Chicago closed the gap to 3-1 by the end of the second period, that was all they were able to get behind Roberto Luongo after scoring nine goals in a span of four periods in Vancouver.

The 3-1 win returned home ice advantage to the Canucks going into Game 4 here Thursday.

This night it was Vancouver trying to make the game as boring as possible and doing a great job of bottling up the neutral zone and not allowing the Blackhawks the chance to dance around in front of the goaltender who had restricted the St. Louis Blues to five goals in the first round sweep.

“We just came in here and played a very good road game,” said Luongo. “In Vancouver we played it much more loose than we wanted to play it.”

Forward Alex Burrows said it might have been boring hockey but it was smart hockey.

“Strong back checking. Short shifts. We kept it going for 60 minutes. We played a really good game along the boards. We made smart plays all over the ice.

“They play pretty exciting hockey and we're not going to play the run and gun game. Tonight we played the game that got us here,” he said.

Or, as coach Alain Vigneault put it: “We can't play chance versus chance.”

They hosed off the crowd and kept them that way.

“We knew it would be huge coming in here with the way the crowd was going to be. It's easier to play with the lead, although we didn't show that in this series until tonight,” said Burrows.

It all started with Mason Raymond scoring late in the first period to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead and quiet the crowd of 22,659 which roared during the national anthem as loud as any Hawks crowd since they played in old Chicago Stadium across the street.

Bobby Hull performed the ceremonial opening faceoff and the Canucks took an early roughing penalty and the Hawks followed with a goaltender interference call before settling into a lacklustre opening frame until Hawks netminder Nikolai Khabibulin failed to handle the puck behind the net and found himself diving in vain for Raymond's shot into the gaping twine.

Steve Bernier made it 2-0 a minute into the second period on a power play before Henrik Sedin pushed one through Khabibulin's pads which barely had enough steam to get over the goal line.

Three-nothing again.

And then the Hawks started to work on yet another comeback attempt with Brian Campbell scoring on the power play at 11:09. But this time it was just the one as the Hawks were restricted to 24 shots on Luongo.

With Pavol Demitra and Sami Salo out of the lineup, Tyler Pyatt drew in for his first game since leaving the team due to the death of his fiance. He took a first period boarding penalty.

“It meant a lot to get a big win and get a big win in his first game back. it meant a lot to us and I'm sure it meant a lot to him, too,” said Willie Mitchell who played 23:37, second only to Kevin Bieksa who played 27:54.


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