Blackhawks News

Back to B.C.: Luongo, Canucks dominate ‘Hawks to force Game 6

By Jeffrey Bartl
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Who thought a cheap Bic could end up changing this series?

Roberto Luongo shaved his playoff beard then helped trim the Blackhawks’ series lead by dominating in net Sunday as Vancouver left town with a 4-1 victory. It was the first time in the past two postseasons the ‘Hawks failed to close out an opponent on the first try and will now head back to Vancouver in hopes of avoiding a Game 7 — which would also be a first in the Q-Stache era.

Luongo has played exceptional just as often as he’s been “Reboundo.” He shut down the ‘Hawks in Game 1 and played above average in the Canucks’ Game 2 loss. Inevitability told us all Luongo would steal at least one game pretty much by himself, and he did that Sunday by gobbling up 29 shots while limiting second-chance opportunities for the ‘Hawks.

The ‘Hawks also did not make life nearly as tough for Luongo as they did their Game 3 and Game 4 wins in Vancouver. Dustin Byfuglien spent more time in the penalty box than he did in front of the net, leaving Luongo clear views of the puck most of the night. Rather than retaliate with idiotic penalties as they did in Vancouver, the Canucks played a solid game of moving Byfuglien and others away from Luongo without breaking any rules.

In fact, Game 5 was nearly a 180 of role reversals between the two teams. The Blackhawks looked putrid on the power play during the four opportunities they had while Vancouver watched ‘Hawk after ‘Hawk skating to the box. Kevin Bieksa scored his second goal of the night and put the Canucks ahead 3-0 with Byfuglien serving a slashing call.

Vancouver killed any momentum it had going for it in Game 3 and 4 by putting itself down a man with stupid penalties and watched the ‘Hawks convert power play after power play. Sunday, Jonathan Toews continued his bid for the Conn Smyth by potting a goal with just over seven minutes left to cut the lead to 3-1. Four second later,  Marian Hossa took a slashing penalty and let the air out of the UC.

The Canucks played disciplined hockey Sunday while the ‘Hawks tossed the puck around like they were blindfolded.  Kris Versteeg drew a “What the funky hell are you doing, asshole?!” out of me when he fired the puck to no one, leading to an icing call and  Christian Ehroff’s goal 59 seconds into the game.  Ben Eager played like a dipshit by drawing stupid penalties and being utterly useless. Even Antti Niemi got whistled for a penalty for Christ’s sake.

The ‘Hawks failed to produce a decent amount of sustained offense in Vancouver’s zone despite the fact  Sami Salo was in the hospital with bruised nuts and  Shane O’ Brien left a gallon of blood on the ice as the result of a high stick. Luongo snuffed out the rest of the opportunities the ‘Hawks didn’t eff up themselves.

Dave Bolland (lost 13 of 15 faceoffs and played like farts all around) and  Niklas Hjalmarsson were lost out there all night. And of course, Q-Stache had everyone play with everyone tonight on the forward lines and broke up Duncan Keith and  Brent Seabrook after Vancouver’s second first-period goal.

Bottom line, the Blackhawks played like hell when we figured they’d come out with a killer instinct in order to get the Cancucks out of their lives. Now, it’s back to Vancouver for a Game 6 we all hoped to avoid. Will the Canucks lose all three games on home ice? Seems damn near impossible, right? Well, it better happen or the Blackhawks will play a coin-toss Game 7 when they had this series by the balls.

See you Tuesday… damnit.

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