Late penalties prove fatal for Canucks

Terry Jones, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

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 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 Western Conference semi-final on Saturday night.

Partially in response to two penalties called late by referees Paul Devorski and Dennis LaRue and partially in frustration with the home town hockey team, the garbage came from the stands as thousands of fans got up from their seats and left the building.

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 but can't remember if one of them was a winner. It 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,” he said.

Boland was left unprotected on the backside and banged in a cross-crease pass from Patrick Kane to break a 2-2 tie on the power play with Kevin Bieksa in the penalty box at 14:55 of the third period.

“They were pretty tired,” he said of the Canucks defence.

“Sami Salo was wondering around out there,” he added of the Canuck who missed the previous two games and ended up our of position in front of the net.

Boland made sure his shot was a sure shot.

“Roberto Luongo can get over there quick,” he said.

The goal by the former London Knight, was followed by an empty net goal by Martin Havlat gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-2 win in Game 5 and a 3-2 series lead heading back to Game 6 in Chicago Monday.

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 being in the lead early only lasted 79 seconds for the team which had only managed 23:10 of the first 252:52 minutes of play in the series in the lead.

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 power play goal by Ryan Kesler on a deflection through the legs of Nikolai Khabibulin.

After two boring bouts in Chicago the two teams came back here and picked up the pace where they left off when they checked out of G.M. Place a week earlier after Game two.

There was more action in the first few shifts here last night than the the two games combined in Chicago.

The Canucks, who only had 15 shots on goal in Game 4, including only eight after they scored eight minutes into the second period, outshot Chicago 11-10 in the first period – the first time they outshot the Blackhawks in any period in the series and their highest shot total for any period in the series by Vancouver.

Sundin's goal 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 had scored first, they found themselves down again.

“We are never out of the game,” said Boland. “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 late in Game 4, it was the Blackhawks who closed with the goals late to win.


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