2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 5 - Chicago 5, Vancouver 0 – Canucks lead series, 3-2
The worst nightmare for the Vancouver Canucks is getting close to becoming a reality. In a span of roughly 55 hours, a lopsided series has turned into a deathmatch that is ticketed for a sixth game and could very well go seven. Amazingly enough, one year after the Philadelphia Flyers came back from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins in seven games, a repeat of that once-in-a-generation scenario could very well be developing in this year’s Stanley Cup chase. The Chicago Blackhawks didn’t just get back into the conversation on Thursday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver; they blasted the top seed in the West by five goals for the second straight game.
After dominating the early part of the series and grabbing a stranglehold of this best-of-seven clash, the Canucks are slipping. So is their gold medal-winning goaltender from the 2010 Winter Olympics (which were, ironically enough, played in Vancouver).
Why the shift in momentum? Dave Bolland has been an impactful presence for the resurgent Blackhawks, but the leaders for Chicago are finally showing up, and that’s the biggest reason for the defending champs’ fierce fightback. One of those leaders is defenseman Duncan Keith, who netted two goals and two assists as the Blackhawks stayed alive in their Stanley Cup title defense.
Other leaders finally stepped to the forefront for Chicago as well. Marian Hossa, with his first two goals of the series, and Patrick Kane, with his first of the series, also scored to give ballast to the Blackhawks, who are finally looking the part of the team that lifted Lord Stanley’s oversized drinking bowl last spring. Chicago’s rookie goaltender Corey Crawford made 36 saves for his first playoff shutout.
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The Hawks scored fast and often in the first period against a bewitched, bothered and bewildered Roberto Luongo, who has lost hold of this series. Hossa’s first goal came on the power play at the 5:54 mark and just 24 seconds later, Keith ripped a slapper past “Bobby Lou” as the Hawks took a quick two-goal lead.
The final goal of the first period came on the man advantage when Kane beat Luongo at the 12:17 mark. The Hawks, who weren’t expected to leave Vancouver with another hockey game to play, had a three-goal lead after the first 20 minutes.
Chicago, and more specifically Hossa, kept it coming early in the second period. Just 1:26 into the period, Hossa scored his second goal of the game and chased Luongo from his second straight game.
A new goalie entered, but the result was the same for Vancouver, a Blackhawks goal, as Keith hit the back of the net for the second time in the game at 4:47 of the period. The rout was on, and 25 minutes of hockey hadn’t been played. The rest of the evening was a fight-filled comedy, but nobody in Vancouver blues was laughing.
So, the Hawks will live to play another day. All the signs are pointing Chicago’s way, and if the Blackhawks find a way to win Game 6 at home on Sunday, all the pressure in the hockey world will rest on Vancouver’s heavy shoulders in Game 7.
Be afraid, Canucks fans. Be very afraid.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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