Stanley Cup playoff games featuring the Chicago Blackhawks have the tendency to see many, many goals scored. But under the watchful eye of coach Joel Quenneville, no Blackhawks postseason win has seen more goals than a 2009 series-clincher against the Vancouver Cancuks.
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There was some precedent for this, as the Canucks opened the 2009 series between the teams with a five-goal effort. The Blackhawks followed that with a six-goal surge in Game 2. Also, there were no shutouts in this series. But the back-and-forth nature of this contest, as well as the importance of the game, places this win near the top of our countdown of most memorable playoff victories under Coach Q.
Note: Check out the previous entries in this series at the end of this post.
No. 8: 2009 Western Conference semifinals, Game 6
Chicago Blackhawks 7, Vancouver Canucks 5
The crowd at the United Center was roaring and ready to see the Blackhawks advance to their first Western Conference finals since the 1994-95 season, but it certainly wouldn’t be easy. Dave Bolland and Marty Havlat had some good chances in the game’s opening minute, and Havlat had a breakaway chance turned aside by Roberto Luongo following a sweet stretch pass from Brent Seabrook.
It would instead be the Canucks scoring first after Matt Walker got stuck behind the play, giving Vancouver a 3-on-2 with Niklas Hjalmarsson and Bolland back. Mason Raymond wound up with the puck, skated it below the circle to Nikolai Khabibulin‘s left and fired a shot past the goaltender to lift the Canucks to a lead 11 minutes in.
Just two minutes later, though, a great individual effort by Patrick Kane ended with a wrister beating Luongo to tie the game. Those were the only two goals scored in the first period, but there was certainly plenty to come.
With Rick Rypien in the penalty box early in the second, Dustin Byfuglien won a board battle behind the net and flicked the puck out to Seabrook. The defenseman carried it toward the blue line, then turned and pass it to Kris Versteeg. Versteeg sniped a shot high over Luongo and into the twine, staking Chicago a 2-1 edge.
Da Windy City
Then, with Willie Mitchell in the box about eight minutes later, Jonathan Toews wound up with the puck down low and shoved it through Luongo for a 3-1 Blackhawks lead. Fans probably though the team was well on its way to a series-clinching win, but that wasn’t yet the case.
Another good scoring chance for the Blackhawks saw Bolland’s shot padded away by Luongo, but the Canucks quickly turned this one around. Daniel Sedin wound up with the puck and, similar to Versteeg, wristed a shot high over Khabibulin and into the netting, cutting the Blackhawks’ lead to one.
Later in the middle period, after the Blackhawks failed to clear the puck from their zone, Shane O’Brien picked it up and carried it just above the circles. His shot made it through some light traffic and beat Khabibulin, ensuring this game would be tied heading into the third.
Vancouver carried the momentum into the final period when Mats Sundin fired a shot low through traffic that got by Khabibulin, lifting the Canucks to a 4-3 lead less than four minutes into the period.
The Blackhawks weren’t about to panic, though. Patrick Sharp stripped Kevin Bieksa of the puck down low and carried it right at Luongo. The goaltender muffled that attempt, but Adam Burish followed up with a slapper than beat Luongo to tie the game just a few minutes after Vancouver had taken the lead.
But the Canucks responded again, as Henrik Sedin won a faceoff to Sami Salo with Troy Brouwer in the penalty box. The defenseman fed a short pass to Daniel Sedin, who cruised down to the circle at Khabibulin’s right and slipped a shot behind Khabibulin, pushing the Canucks ahead by one again.
Then, it was on the Blackhawks’ stars. Brouwer held in the puck down low for the Blackhawks and tried to throw it past two Vancouver defensemen. He somehow did, as Kane collected the puck and found a small gap between Luongo and the post to his left for a wraparound goal, tying the contest once more and devastating the goaltender.
Luongo would only become further devastated when O’Brien went to the penalty box with less than seven minutes to go in regulation. Toews and Havlat played a game of catch to Luongo’s left, and the captain kept the puck last and threw it past Luongo down low for what would be the game-winner.
Not satisfied with a one-goal lead, however, Kane put forth another fantastic individual effort in which he went around O’Brien and backhanded a shot from between the circles past Luongo to put this one out of reach for Vancouver. It also secured a hat trick for Kane.
And despite giving up five goals, despite dropping a 3-1 lead and despite needing multiple comebacks, the Blackhawks moved on to the Western Conference finals against Detroit and had created an instant classic of a game.
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