The Goods: Whale of a game
Luongo shuts the door to keep the season alive
You want to know what happened in the Canucks game and you want to know now. We get it. Here’s the bare bones recap of Vancouver’s 4-1 win over Chicago in Game 5 of their Western Conference Semifinal.
IT WAS OVER WHEN...
…Alex Burrows restored Vancouver’s three goal lead with an empty netter with 45 seconds to play in the third period to seal a 4-1 win over Chicago to force Game 6 Tuesday night.
A perfect start was needed for the Canucks to stave off elimination and avoid losing four straight games for the first time this season and they were able to turn the Mad House into a Sad House 59 seconds in when Christian Ehrhoff zinged a point shot past Antti Niemi.
Vancouver doubled its lead at the 14:24 mark after Kevin Bieksa finished off a 2-on-1 alongside Kyle Wellwood; the beginning to Game 5 was a carbon copy of the second game of the series, except there would be no Chicago comeback Sunday.
Thirteen minutes into the second Bieksa put Vancouver up 3-0 with another long shot from the point that eluded Niemi thanks to a screen by Burrows.
Jonathan Toews extended his point streak to eight games (6-13-18) with the only Blackhawks goal of the game, a tip off a Duncan Keith shot from the blueline.
Chicago swarmed late, but Burrows’ third goal of the post-season, equaling a career-high, shut the door on a comeback attempt and moved Vancouver a step closer to coming back from a 3-1 series deficit for the fourth time in franchise history.
Kevin Bieksa picked a perfect time to play the best playoff game of his career.
The defenceman was a pivotal part of the win because of his first two-goal post-season game to date; his first period score counted as his first game-winning goal of the season and the first playoff game-winner of his career.
With two goals and an assist on the night, Bieksa also established a new personal best in playoff points with eight, three better than his total from 2008-09.
Not only was Bieksa a juggernaut offensively, he also logged 27:04 of ice time, his third highest post-season total ever, in helping fill the void left when Sami Salo was injured at the end of the first period.
He didn’t look like a playoff warrior, but Roberto Luongo played like one.
The Canucks keeper, who shaved his playoff beard after allowing 11 goals in two games coming into this contest, was sensational in picking up his sixth win of the post-season stopping 29 shots; he was on pace for his second career playoff shutout before a late Blackhawks goal.
There’s something about playing in Chicago that has agreed with Luongo of late as through three games in the windy city he’s 2-1 with a 1.66 goals against average and .950 save percentage. In a pair of games in Vancouver, Luongo’s numbers are significantly less at 0-2, 5.5 goals against average and .838 save percentage.
DITCH THE LIDS
No explanation has risen as to why the Canucks, save for Roberto Luongo and Andrew Raycroft, took the pre-game warm-up without their helmets, but the team unity demonstrated before puck drop continued afterward.
Not since Game 1 of this series had the Canucks played with such togetherness, and that includes being there for one another to ensure calm, level heads prevailed in scrums.
The loss of Sami Salo reinforced that the troops needed to rally around one another to win this game and they did. Should this continue for Game 6, don’t be surprised to see this series shift back to Chicago for a seventh and deciding game.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
No one knows more about climbing out of a 3-1 series hole than the Vancouver Canucks.
Three times (1992 Smythe Division Final vs. Winnipeg, 1994 Western Conference Quarter Final against Calgary and 2003 Western Conference Quarter Final vs. St. Louis) the Canucks have erased a two game deficit and come back to win a best-of-seven series, the most of any team in NHL history.
If the Canucks, one of 12 teams to have overcome the two-game shortcoming, are to accomplish the feat against the Blackhawks, it would be the first time Chicago has been a victim of the comeback.
Thanks to Daniel Fung, we know that coming back from 3-1 happens only 9.24 per cent of the time (22-for-238).
FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
”We’re very happy with the way tonight went, we had guys step up in all areas of the game, Lui was obviously great tonight and OB is taking punches in the face, everyone really sacrificed for the win.
”We’re obviously not a better team without Sami in the line-up, but we tightened it up and kept it simple when he was out and hopefully we’ll have him back for next game.”
Do or die. Again.
Getting back on even terms with the Blackhawks will require another win from the Canucks in Game 6 Tuesday, May 11 at GM Place.
If that date rings a bell it’s because 365 days ago on May 11, Chicago eliminated Vancouver from the playoffs with a 7-5 win on home ice. Payback time.
3-2 Chicago, Game 6 Tuesday
2 – Assists for Mikael Samuelsson, he's 4th in playoff scoring with 15 points.
3 – Goals scored by defencemen, Bieksa x 2, Ehrhoff x 1.
18 – All-time wins for the Canucks when Daniel and Henrik both record at least one point in the same playoff game (18-7).
20 – Playoff wins for the Canucks all-time when facing possible elimination (20-22).
29 – Saves by Roberto Luongo.
Offence from the defence was the trend of the game with three Canucks goals and four points coming via Kevin Bieksa and Christian Ehrhoff.
Mikael Samuelsson, Henrik Sedin and Kyle Wellwood each had a pair of helpers.
Vancouver was outshot by Chicago 30-24.
Sami Salo leaving the game could have spelled doom for the Canucks, instead they rallied around his departure with everyone logging more ice time and with the exception of a few plays, Salo was hardly missed.
Luongo stood tall between the pipes with 29 stops on 30 shots.
The Canucks were 1-for-6 on the power play; the Blackhawks finished 0-for-4.