Canucks implode against 'Hawks

Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo takes off his mask after being pulled against the Chicago...

Vancouver Canucks' Roberto Luongo takes off his mask after being pulled against the Chicago Blackhawks. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:33 AM ET

VANCOUVER - They don’t give out Stanley Cup rings to anybody and the Vancouver Canucks, given their weak and stunted playoff history, should know that better than anyone.

And if they didn’t before, they sure do know, after the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks slapped them silly for the second straight game, serving notice that Game 4 was no fluke and the series is back on.

“We blew them out in both games, so we have to be happy with where we’re at,” said Chicago’s Patrick Kane, after the Hawks followed their 7-2 whupping on Tuesday with a 5-0 sequel in Game 5 Thursday. “We feel pretty good about the team we have the confidence level we have right now.”

Why wouldn’t they, after Duncan Keith had a four-point night, Marian Hossa scored twice and netminder Corey Crawford pitched a 36-save shutout to close the series gap to 3-2.

“We have a chance,” said defenceman Brian Campbell. “And we believe in ourselves.”

As good as the Hawks were, the Canucks were that bad. In what was supposed to be their defining game of the first round, a chance to eliminate Chicago and show the hockey world they aren’t going to spit up at the first taste of adversity, they played like Rory McIlroy on Sunday at Augusta.

“We have to be better,” said Henrik Sedin. “In front of our home crowd, to lose like this, is a tough one.”

It was bad even for Vancouver.

Robert Luongo whiffed on the second shot of the game, at 5:54, and just like that, the Canucks went away. Twenty four seconds later it was 2-0 and six minutes after that it was 3-0 on goals from Duncan Keith and Patrick Kane.

Luongo, hooked in the third period of Game 4, barely made it past the first in Game 5. He was gone 86 seconds into the second after four goals on 12 shots.

“We have to stay composed here, obviously,” said Luongo. “We have to take a deep breath here and relax a little bit.”

He’s given up 10 goals in 65 minutes (39 shots) and Vancouver fans are worried that the playoff yips have claimed him again.

“I just have to keep doing what I’ve been doing all year,” he said. “I’ve been at the top of my game for the last five months. You don’t lose something like that in a game or two. For me, nothing changes.”

The same city that booed Team Canada in 1972 was in full grumble in the first period. In the second period: stunned silence.

They played out the scoreless third period to a half-empty building.

Now what, if you’re Vancouver?

Everyone came to the rink expecting that the series was over.

It’s hard to believe now that it isn’t.

Anyone think the Canucks can win Game 6 in Chicago? Or come home on a three-game losing streak and the prospect of a historic choke hanging over their gullets, and win?

“Right now the momentum is on their side,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “There are going to be a lot of questions about our group, but we as coaches have tremendous faith in this team.

“Tonight we didn’t have the response that I wanted, but I have confidence that the guys will go out and prove it.”

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/Tychkowski


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