Canucks hold on to beat 'Hawks

Chicago Blackhawks' Corey Crawford stops Vancouver Canucks' Chris Higgins from getting to the puck....

Chicago Blackhawks' Corey Crawford stops Vancouver Canucks' Chris Higgins from getting to the puck. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:20 AM ET

VANCOUVER - Before the Chicago Blackhawks had a chance to turn the clock back to 2010 or 2009, the Vancouver Canucks turned it back to Wednesday.

After gassing 1-0 series leads to Chicago in each of the last two years, the Canucks came to the rink bent on making a stand, showing the Hawks and the rest of the National Hockey League that they’re not going to melt when things get tough. Not this time.

And they did.

“If we can play this way each and every game in the series, and there’s no reason why we can’t, we’re going to be a tough team to beat,” said Kevin Bieksa, especially proud of the way Vancouver beat back a trio of furious comeback attempts in a 4-3 triumph. “We were physical, we skated, we’re putting lot of pucks on net and we did a pretty good job defensively... and we can handle adversity.”

They beat the defending champions in Game 2 like they beat them in Game 1, putting their Western Conference playoff series in a 2-0 choke hold.

Instead of choking.

The President’s Trophy winners had plenty of chances to spit this one up, but twice when Chicago closed two-goal gaps to one, and the place started getting nervous, Vancouver scored the next goal.

And when Chicago did it a third time, turning 4-2 into 4-3 with seven minutes left in the third period, Vancouver calmly closed the deal.

OK, the last 90 seconds with the Chicago net empty wasn’t all that calm, it looked like a fire drill on fast forward, but they got it done.

“I think that’s maybe where we’re a bit more mature this year than in the past,” said netminder Roberto Luongo. “They cut it 2-1 and we’re back on our heels, but each time they scored we responded right away.”

They responded last year, too, by losing.

“I don’t know why people don’t understand that this is a different team and a different year,” said Canucks winger Alex Burrows. “It’s different players. The only similarities are that it’s Chicago-Vancouver.”

And even that looks entirely unfamiliar.

The Hawks, who’ve made a rather successful habit of waiting till the second game of a series to get serious, are now in serious trouble.

The only switch they flicked is the one that turned their situation from bad to worse.

“Very desperate,” said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. “But what are you going to do? We’re going home, we’ve got to find a way to rejuvenate ourselves, get our crowd into it. We’ve gotta go. We’ve gotta find a way back into this.”

Down 2-0 in the second on goals by Jannik Hansen and Daniel Sedin, Chicago cut it to 2-1, which is where the Canucks have melted before, but Alex Edler restored the two goal lead.

Once again Chicago closed the gap (Viktor Stalberg at 1:56) and once again Vancouver restored its two-goal lead (Daniel Sedin at 10:06).

Smith scored another one at 12:50, and the Canucks never budged.

The Canucks are a different animal this year.

“We hope so,” said Henrik Sedin, . “In the past we would have sat back and hoped we got the win. This time we kept coming. But we’re not here to win one or two games, we’re here to move on.”

The series shifts to Chicago now, where the Hawks have been tough to beat in the past.

But as both sides are proving, this is not the past.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/Tychkowski


Videos

Photos