Chicago completes comeback, ties series with Canucks
This time, the Chicago Blackhawks completed their comeback.
Down 2-0 to the Vancouver Canucks after the first period, the Blackhawks rattled off five straight goals to eventually take Game 2 by a score of 6-3, tying their NHL Western Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
The win came two days after Chicago rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third period of Game 1, only to lose 5-3.
"It's a long game," said captain Jonathan Toews, who earned an assist in the victory. "As long as you give yourself a chance to get back in there ... it's a long ways from being done, especially if we are only down two goals.
"Once we get that first goal, it's a confidence builder. Every single line feels like they can go out there and something will happen."
Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland each had two goals as the Blackhawks handed the Canucks their first loss of this post-season. It marks the fifth time in these Stanley Cup playoffs that Chicago has battled back to win after trailing.
Canucks start strong, again
The game in Vancouver began with both teams doing a good job of finishing their hits. It was this physical game, coupled with a parade to the penalty box, that cost Chicago two early goals.
With the puck dumped into the Chicago end, rugged Vancouver forward Rick Rypien chased down and checked Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson behind the Chicago goal.
The hit gave the Canucks enough time to pressure Hjalmarsson into flipping the puck out of play and his team was charged with killing off its first penalty five minutes into the game.
Rebounding from a subpar effort on the power play in Game 1, where the Canucks went 1-for-7, they needed only 30 seconds of their first chance in Game 2.
Working the puck behind the Blackhawks goal, Vancouver's Sedin twins drew the attention of Chicago defenders. This left Sami Salo free and clear to take a pass from Henrik Sedin and fire a bullet over the glove of Nikolai Khabibulin.
After the celebration, Salo left the ice and headed to the dressing room with an injury and did not return. Coach Alain Vigneault would only say it's a lower-body injury and Salo, who had already missed one playoff game, is listed day-to-day.
Under a minute after giving up the first goal, undisciplined play cost the Blackhawks a pair of penalties and another goal.
Ben Eager took a roughing penalty six minutes into the first and then Duncan Keith took a slashing call to hand Vancouver a two-man advantage for 1:42.
The Canucks only needed 10 seconds.
In a mirror image of the Canucks' first goal, Alex Edler scored from the same spot on the ice his teammate Salo did, but this time beat Khabibulin low on his blocker side after taking the pass from Mats Sundin.
Chicago had a couple of pressuring shifts and it paid off with a power play chance when Shane O'Brien was sent off for hooking, but Roberto Luongo stopped all seven shots in the first period to preserve the Canucks' 2-0 lead going into intermission.
Chicago rallies in 2nd period
The second period saw the Blackhawks climb back into the game by outshooting the Canucks 13-5 and notching their second three-goal period of the series.
Halfway through the period, Luongo robbed a sure goal off a hard rebound chance by Eager. Seemingly down and out, the Canucks keeper stopped the slapper by diving back with an outstretched stick to deny Eager.
But the Vancouver goalie couldn't deny the Blackhawks on their next chance as Sharp put the puck through Luongo's legs during a scrum in front of the net.
"Scoring after that big save was important for us, I think we got some momentum off of it," said Chicago coach Joel Quenneville.
The Blackhawks continued the pressure and Dustin Byfuglien drew a penalty as he drove hard to the net with the puck and plowed into Luongo.
Referees determined the Chicago forward was hooked down by Kevin Bieksa, who quickly had company in the penalty box when Willie Mitchell batted the puck out of the air and out of play.
Handed a similar 5-on-3 advantage, Chicago scored a similar goal.
After forcing the Vancouver penalty killers to go without a change for a minute and a half, Sharp tied the game with his second tally of the night off a one-timer from the exact position that Salo and Edler scored.
Khabibulin a wall, ends streak
With under five minutes to go in the middle frame, Khabibulin preserved the tie by stopping a breakaway chance by Steve Bernier.
The Chicago goalie stopped 19 shots on the way to his first win against the Canucks in 11 years.
Chicago's Dave Bolland put his team ahead before the end of the period off a breakaway chance of his own, this one coming shorthanded.
Bolland took a stretch pass from Duncan Keith, waited out Luongo and deked the netminder to take the lead.
"It feels like we didn't play a terrible game," said Henrik Sedin. "We didn't execute on some plays.
"Their shorthanded goal was just a mistake from our side. We did a few mistakes and it cost us."
Quenneville said he was proud of how his players responded when they found themselves in the same position as Game 1 — trailing because of too many trips to the box.
"It was a very similar story tonight ... where we get behind early, take too many penalties, and we're fighting against it," he said. "Tonight we had a really good second period but we still have to learn ... to stay out of the box."
The Blackhawks wasted no time jumping on the Canucks in the third period.
Adam Burish, driving down the right wing in the Vancouver end and flanked by a Vancouver defenceman, shovelled a one-handed pass to linemate Eager in front of the net.
Eager one-timed the puck behind Luongo for the first playoff goal of his career and a 4-2 lead.
Patrick Kane made it a three-goal lead six minutes in with a backhand that beat Luongo five-hole.
Vancouver interrupted Chicago's run with a Henrik Sedin power-play goal with under three minutes to go, but Bolland added his second of the night, an empty-netter with 1:07 left, to seal the win.
Game 3 is set for Chicago on Tuesday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET).
With files from The Canadian Press