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Luongo, Bieksa Come Up Big; Force Game 6

May 9, 2010 – 11:35 PM
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Adam Gretz

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Even if it's just for one more game, the ship that is the Vancouver Canucks is still floating thanks to their 4-1 win in Chicago on Sunday night. They did it by getting an early goal -- just 59 seconds in from Christian Ehrhoff -- and then sucking the life out of everything in the United Center: the Blackhawks, the crowd ... everything ... to send the series back to Vancouver on Tuesday night.

It didn't look anything like the Canucks team that dropped the previous three games, giving up 15 goals in the process, as they played a strong defensive game, were disciplined and perfect on the penalty kill (4-for-4) ... something they had done just twice in 10 games this postseason. They also received a big game from Roberto Luongo -- a player that needed a big game more than any other player on the roster -- as he stopped 29 of the 30 Chicago shots he faced, just two days after being referred to as "the second best goalie on the ice" by his own head coach.

And with that, the Canucks get their frenzied crowd back behind them for Game 6.

Blackhawks Lead Series, 3-2
Canucks 4, Blackhawks 1: Recap | Box Score | Series Page

It was an impressive defensive showing by the Canucks, not only because of how they rendered one of the highest scoring offenses in the NHL useless, but also due to the fact they had to do it shorthanded for much of the game, suffering a pair of scary injuries.

The more severe of which appeared to be defenseman Sami Salo, as he had to leave the game late in the first period after he was struck in the groin area by a Duncan Keith slap shot, which is most likely even more painful than it sounds (and it doesn't sound all that pleasant). He did not return to the game, and was eventually taken to a Chicago hospital. Later in the game, the Canucks lost another defenseman -- though, this time only briefly -- when Shane O'Brien was on the receiving end of a Dustin Byfuglien follow through, resulting in a deep cut above his eye that left a pool of blood that stretched from the defensive zone all the way to the Canucks bench.

He would later return to the game and ended up logging almost 20 minutes of ice time, finishing as a plus-two.

Kevin Bieksa proved to be, perhaps, the most productive player for the Canucks, playing a team-high 27 minutes, scoring a pair of goals (on two shots) and being credited with a game-high four blocked shots. His second goal of the game, which gave Vancouver a 3-0 lead, was set up by Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin, but Alex Burrows probably deserves most of the credit, as he parked himself right in front of Chicago goalie Antti Niemi and provided an absolutely perfect screen.

Niemi never had a chance.

Burrows also found himself in front of Niemi on Vancouver's first goal when Ehrhoff slipped one past him from the blue line following a faceoff that was won by Henrik Sedin against Dave Bolland. Burrows was later rewarded for his hard work by chipping in an empty-net goal in the final minute of regulation.

It wasn't a great night for Bolland, finishing as a minus-two and losing 11 of his 13 faceoffs, including all three he took in the defensive zone.

Jonathan Toews scored the only goal for Chicago, his sixth of the playoffs at the 12:51 mark of the third period.
Filed under: Sports