Stranglehold: Canucks up 3-0
Was there actually a time when we were worried about Roberto Luongo's playoff performance?
Luongo was miraculous yet again for the Canucks making 30 saves as they beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.
The pressure was really on Chicago. Everyone was expecting them to come out strong in this game, and they did, thanks to some sloppy play by the Canucks. The boys from van city took 4 penalties in the opening stanza, but Luongo was equal to the task, only letting one escape his grasp, a bullet point shot by Duncan Keith. The Canucks also had to kill off a 5 on 3 man advantage, and Luongo stole the show. He stopped Patrick Kane on a sure goal by getting his glove up. He did it again in the third, on his back with his glove literally on the goal line. The Hawks outshot the Canucks 16-10 in the period.
In the second, the game was much more even, as the Canucks got themselves sorted out. Christian Ehrhoff, who is sure to get a big pay raise in the offseason, scored his first of the series on a lazer shot, similar to Keith's. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford wasn't screened on the play, as the puck went straight in. In was definitely one he would like back.
50 seconds later, Daniel Sedin scored his third of the series after Alex Edler and him broke in 2 on 1. Edler feathered a perfect saucer pass over the stick of Duncan Keith, and Daniel took two swipes to deposit the puck in the back of the net.
The Hawks responded on the powerplay, as Patrick Sharp, the Hawks leading goal scorer in the regular season with 34, scored his first of the series on a wicked slapper.
Tied 2-2 going into the third, the Canucks came out buzzing, while the Hawks came out flat. It was evident that the Hawks top guns, Kane, Toews, Sharp, Keith and Seabrook were all dead tired, as they had played most of the game. Kane for instance, played a ridiculous 26 minutes. The Hawks supporting cast clearly isn't what it used to be.
The Canucks used the fatigue to their advantage, as Mikael Samuelsson, back after missing game 2 because of the flu, scored his first of the series on a backhand. Daniel Sedin had his shot blocked, Samuelsson picked it up, gave it a whirl, and found himself with his hands raised in the air.
The Canucks and Luongo held on in the third and went up 3-0 in the series, a sure lock for the second round. Only 3 times in NHL history has a team come back to win 4 games after being down 3-0.
But with the Canucks and Hawks, hey, you just never know.
Notes: Raffi Torres will be likely receive a call from Colin Campbell as he delivered a head shot to Hawks D Brent Seabrook; this after he literally JUST returned from a 4 game suspension for a shot to the head of Oilers rookie Jordan Eberle. Seabrook left the game but did return.