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 lucky break to bounce back to win it. This time they gave up five straight goals to lose 6-3 and head to Chicago today with the series tied 1-1 and Game 3 and 4 set for the United Center Tuesday and Thursday where 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 and 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.
Chicago had only managed to allow the Calgary Flames one power play goal in 45 attempts in their entire first round playoff series. But last night they gave up two in the first six minutes and 44 seconds to allow 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.
Both were on blasts from well inside the blue-line. Unfortunately for the Canucks, he 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.
Roberto 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.
Chicago outshot Vancouver 30-21.
It was the first win in 11 years against the Canucks for Blackhawks netminder Nikoalai Khabibulin who went into the game with a 0-10-1 record in that time against Vancouver. For Luongo the five goals against matched the number of goals he gave up in the entire St. Louis series.