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Blackhawks shoot for series win

Saturday, 05.08.2010 / 6:51 PM / News

Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) -Roberto Luongo has a different look heading into Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals. Who knows if it will affect his play on the ice.

The Vancouver goalie has shaved off his beard.

"Change things up a little bit," Luongo said Saturday. "Give something else a try."

Trailing 3-1, the biggest change for Vancouver on Sunday night is to have more discipline, stay out of the penalty box and limit Chicago's power play chances.

Chicago's Jonathan Toews scored three of the Blackhawks' four power-play goals Friday night in a 7-4 victory when the Canucks seemed to confuse physical play with ill-advised penalties - eight of them - while trying to counteract 6-foot-4, 257-pound Dustin Byfuglien.

The Blackhawks have apparently gotten into the Canucks' psyche, while finding a way to score on Luongo. Luongo's own coach, Alain Rigneault, described the Olympic gold winner as the second best goalie on the ice behind Chicago rookie Antti Niemi.

Byfuglien scored three goals in Chicago's Game 3 win and then drew three penalties Friday night. His ability to get in Luongo's space has been one of the big factors in the Blackhawks' success against the Canucks the last two postseasons.

Chicago ousted Vancouver in the semifinals a year ago.

"Just going out there and doing my job, getting in front and trying to give him a hard time to see the puck," Byfuglien said Saturday.

"I knew it was going to be a physical game. I think everyone did - they were going to come out like that. And they weren't smart about it."

For the Canucks, finding a day to maintain their physical, up-tempo style will be a priority at the United Center, where they were able to win the opener.

Giving the talented Blackhawks an extra man or even two won't work.

"That's not the type of game we need to be playing and it hurt us last year and it's hurting us again this year," Luongo said.

"We've got to realize we're a good team and when we play the way we are supposed to play, we're one of the best in the league. ... It's just a matter of making sure we play for the crest on our jersey."

Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo suggested that the Canucks can play physical but also be in control and they have to be able to do that Sunday night.

"I don't know, I haven't felt they are in our heads, but saying that we're still taking a lot of penalties so that's not a good thing," Salo said.

"We know what kind of hockey we can play if we keep our heads cool and play the game."

Toews, benefited from Byfuyglien's presence on his line, had two assists to go with his three goals. He has 18 points in the playoffs.

"Some nights you are not going to play your best and everything kind of goes in for you. Obviously it was one of those nights where you are around the net and everything seems to find you, pucks are going to you and you get lucky," the Blackhawks captain said Saturday.

"We want to keep that going, especially tomorrow night."

Vigneault said his comment that Luongo was the second best goalie stemmed from the team's play.

"Roberto and our team the last two games we have been the second best team on the ice," he said.

"The goaltender has been a big part of it and he's been in this situation before. He was in this situation just a couple months ago with Team Canada where they couldn't lose and he won three straight, so I've got a lot of faith him, I've got a lot of confidence in him and I know he's going to do the job for us. ... The series is not over."

Vancouver's Shane O'Brien expects the Canucks to play loose, despite their predicament.

"We got nothing to lose now. We're in a situation where probably no one thinks we can come back and the odds are we probably can't, but we're going to give it our best go," O'Brien said. "It would taste even better if we came back from 3-1."

The Blackhawks are glad to be back on their home ice with a chance to return to the Western Conference finals for a second straight year. It took them six games to oust the Canucks a year ago. In that Game 6 in Chicago, Luongo gave up seven goals, three to Patrick Kane.

A year later, Chicago is in the same position.

"We have to find a way to play our best game of the series. We know what it will take to put this team away," Toews said.

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness