Blackhawks blast Canucks to tighten series
Vancouver leads Western Conference quarter-final 3-2
Duncan Keith had two goals and two assists as the Chicago Blackhawks quickly silenced an expectant crowd at Rogers Arena en route to a 5-0 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks in playoff action on Thursday.
Marian Hossa scored twice and had an assist while Patrick Kane also found the mark as, for the second straight game, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo was pulled in favour of Cory Schneider.
The Blackhawks have outscored the Canucks 12-2 in the last two games to cut Vancouver's best-of-seven lead to 3-2.
Keith now has four goals in the series.
"It feels good to get those goals and contribute [offensively], but it definitely feels nice at the end of the game go to your goalie knowing we won the game," the defenceman said to Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Oake after the game.
Canucks fans were hoping their team would finish off the rival club that has ended their playoffs the last two years, but instead there will be a Game 6 at United Centre in Chicago on Sunday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 4 p.m. PT).
"If we're going down, it's not going to be without a fight," said Keith. "It just shows you there's no quit in our team."
Keith admitted that the injury suffered to frequent defence partner Brent Seabrook in Game 3 as result of a Raffi Torres hit has been a rallying point for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Chicago scored twice in 18 seconds after just over six minutes of play, and when the goalie change was made, were ahead by four.
"There's ups and downs in the playoffs, and the key is we've got to stay composed here," said Luongo. "Obviously we dont want to be caught in these situations but we gotta take a deep breath here and relax. I think it's a good thing we got a couple days here to regroup as a team."
The Canucks netminder admitted that he'd like to have Keith's first goal back, and wondered if it struck a teammate's stick.
Chicago's scoring outburst came after Vancouver was unable to capitalize on a power play just 16 seconds into the contest.
Luongo stopped just eight of 12 shots, but his defencemen fared worse during his time on ice.
Hossa buries breakaway
Vancouver's blue-liners seemed unwilling or incapable of moving Blackhawks away from the top of the crease on two power-play goals in the first period.
Hossa, meanwhile, snuck through two defenders for a breakaway on Luongo's final sequence of the night, burying a shot in the top right corner.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault stressed for a second straight game that his team's gap control was unacceptable.
"They're doing a really good job right now of going [defencemen] up right away and using their speed and instead of being five guys tight together we were spread out a little bit and they're taking advantage of that right now," he said.
Schneider came in and within three minutes had yielded a goal — Keith's second — that was arguably as bad as any Luongo surrendered.
The only suspense left after that was the matter of the shutout. Corey Crawford made 15 of 36 saves in the final period to preserve his first career playoff shutout. He also earned an assist, on Keith's first goal.
"At the beginning of the game, that's when I need to make a save and give us a chance to get the first goal," Crawford told HNIC of the early Vancouver power play.
Predictably, the frequent rivals grated at each other increasingly as the one-sided game wore on. John Scott had choice words for Luongo when he came off the ice, while Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa and Troy Brouwer of Chicago dropped the gloves in a scrum at the end of the second.
Canucks coach backs team
Chicago forward Patrick Sharp, who had two assists, couldn't convert on a breakaway chance against Schneider in the final period.
Schneider stopped 13 of 14 shots he faced.
The Blackhawks had a four-minute power play late in the third after Mikael Samuelsson incurred a high sticking penalty, but weren't overly aggressive in a bid to pad the lead.
Vigneault stressed that it was not a time for the Canucks to hang their heads.
"All year long this group has been accountable. Our leadership guys and each and every player in that room is a good leader, and they've responded.
"Obviously tonight we didn't have the response we wanted, but I've got a lot of confidence in our guys and it's up to us to go out and prove it."