Hawks have Canucks on ropes
Young Chicago club comes up with Game 5 victory in Vancouver
Dave Bolland scored a power-play goal late in the third period and Martin Havlat added an empty netter to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-2 victory over the host Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night in Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference semifinal series.
The young Hawks can wrap up the series Monday night in the Windy City (CBC Sports, CBCSports.ca, 9 p.m. ET).
Bolland's score came with Kevin Bieksa off for high-sticking and it completed a comeback for a Chicago club down 2-1 at the halfway mark of the contest.
Dustin Byfuglien scored twice for the Hawks, while Mats Sundin and Ryan Kesler replied for Vancouver.
This one seemed headed to overtime as both goaltenders — Nikolai Khabibulin for Chicago and Roberto Luongo for Vancouver — were standing their ground.
Enter Bieksa, who took what could only be described as a dumb penalty to set up the key power play on a nice pass from Patrick Kane.
The young Chicago star had the puck along the half boards when he noticed Willie Mitchell was in front of him without a stick.
Kane went right at the defenceman before zipping a sharp pass to Bolland who was standing on the other side of the crease with a wide open net at 14:54.
"Patrick got it there," Bolland told Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Oake. "He has tremendous vision and it was just a little saucer over and he found me."
There are 12 players on the Chicago roster with no playoff experience but that doesn't seem to be preventing the Hawks from putting a push on for a conference title.
"It's tremendous," Bolland said. "All of us in the room try not to get overconfident about ourselves. We just try to play our game and not get too high or low."
Opportunities for the Canucks to tie the game in the last five minutes weren't helped by another bad penalty, this one by Kesler in the offensive zone.
With Luongo pulled and Vancouver pressing, the defence gave the puck away at the Chicago blueline and Martin Havlat carried it all the way down for the empty netter.
This was the fifth straight contest the Canucks have been outshot, though they did improve their poor 15-try performance of Game 4 to a disappointing 21 this time around.
What made it worse was Vancouver had been three minutes away from going up 3-1 in the series back in Chicago but gave up the tying goal in regulation and the winner in overtime.
Now they have to go back to Chicago down a game and looking for a way to get pressure on Khabibulin.
Hawks finally out front
Chicago jumped in front for the first time in the series thanks to some solid work by Samuel Pahlsson's line in the Vancouver zone during the opening 20 minutes.
Eventually a shot came back to the point where Brian Campbell fired one toward a crowd that Pahlsson was creating in front of Luongo by tying up Alex Edler at the tip of the crease.
The rebound dropped to open ice in front of Byfuglien, who only had to fire it into the open side for a 1-0 lead at 15:27 of the first.
Vancouver found the equalizer on the power play.
With Andrew Ladd in the box, Kyle Wellwood was deep in the Hawks' corner to the right of the goal. He tried to send the puck back to the point but it bounced off a Chicago defender and straight to the crease where Ryan Kesler was battling for position.
The Canucks forward was able to get his arms free, allowing him to pound the puck by a distracted Khabibulin to knot the score 1-1 at 17:54.
Canucks go ahead
After killing a penalty by Daniel Sedin at the midway mark of a 1-1 game, the Canucks came racing out of their own zone on a three-on-two led by Henrik Sedin. Spotting Sundin away over on the left side, Henrik feathered a pretty cross-seam pass right on the stick of the charging Swedish veteran.
He wound up and blasted one past Khabibulin on the short side for his second of the playoffs and it was 2-1 Vancouver.
The game started heating up as the second period wound down.
Chicago's Matt Walker took on Shane O'Brien in a legitimate heavyweight bout (combined 440 pounds) and Kris Versteeg and Kevin Bieksa got into a light-heavyweight shoving match (375 pounds).
Vancouver came out of that argument with an extra two minute penalty and Chicago took advantage.
A little pass from the point by Campbell found Byfuglien in the high slot with his back to the goal. He turned and put a wrister right through Luongo's five-hole to tie the game at 18:22.