Blackhawks-Canucks III may seem like a more sexy title given the renewed rivalry and Chicago’s dominance over the past two postseasons. But there was a time when the Canucks got the best of the Blackhawks, and they kept Denis Savard, Norris Trophy winner Doug Wilson and the ’Hawks from moving onto the Stanley Cup finals.
It was the same series the Vancouver Canucks and coach Roger Neilson provided the hockey world with a memorable moment.
The 1981-82 season saw a ton of change, with the institution of the Divisional Playoffs. The Blackhawks benefited, qualifying as the No. 4 seed in the Norris Division with an unspectacular 30-38-12 record.
After upsets of the Minnesota North Stars (3-1, best of 5) and then the St. Louis Blues (4-2) in the Norris Division playoffs, Vancouver awaited to decide the Campbell Conference champion. The Canucks went 7-1, rolling through Calgary and Los Angeles in the Smythe Division playoffs.
Vancouver would go on to beat Chicago 4-1, scoring 15 goals in the final three games of the series to break a 1-1 tie.
The Canucks clinched the series in Game 5 in Chicago with a 6-2 victory, but not without a couple of scraps:
This would be the last time the Canucks would beat the Blackhawks in a playoff series, failing in their last three attempts.
It was Game 2 of that 1982 series in Chicago when Neilson and the rest of the Canucks became disgusted with the officiating and “waved the white flag.”
Vancouver would go on to be swept by the New York Islanders, who won their third straight Stanley Cup.
Long before Roberto Luongo’s tearful interview after Patrick Kane’s hat trick in 2009, the Blackhawks were making the Canucks whine.