The Blackhawks and Canucks forged quite a rivalry in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs that is expected to continue as they meet again for the second consecutive postseason.
Last season, the clubs combined for 218 penalty minutes in a physical six-game conference semifinal series won by Chicago. Vancouver's Ryan Kesler and Andrew Ladd of the Blackhawks had an especially ugly confrontation that left Kesler with a broken nose. The two resumed their bad blood with fighting majors in the third game of the 2009-10 regular season series.
"I'm sure they're going to be looking forward to getting back at us. You don't have to say much about it. There is a history. We don't like each other too much, I think everyone knows that. And these are the types of games that you live for and look forward to," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews
said shortly after his team advanced to the second round, setting up the rematch.
Blackhawks leading scorer Patrick Kane
offered an interesting advance for the series. After helping Chicago eliminate Nashville on Monday, Kane said that while he was representing the United States during the 2010 Winter Olympics, he received a message from Team Canada and Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo during the handshake line after the gold-medal game: "Look forward to meeting you again in the playoffs."
In four regular season meetings, split 2-2, Vancouver's Alex Burrows led all scorers with 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists), and teammate Mikael Samuelsson had a series-high 3 goals. Daniel Sedin had a goal and 3 assists, Henrik Sedin added 2 goals and an assist, and Ryan Kesler scored a goal and 2 assists. Goaltender Roberto Luongo posted a 2-2-0 record with a 2.72 goals-against average, stopping 86 of 95 shots.
Toews paced the Blackhawks with 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists), and Duncan Keith
and Troy Brouwer each scored 2 goals. Kane chipped in with 2 assists in four games, and Marian Hossa
contributed a goal and an assist in two contests. Antti Niemi appeared in three games, posting a 1-2-0 work with a 2.59 GAA. Cristobal Huet also got into two games, recording a win and a 3.00 GAA.
Chicago and Vancouver have met in the postseason three previous occasions, with the Blackhawks winning two series. In the 15 total games, Chicago holds a 9-6 advantage in wins and a 47-43 advantage in goals. They last met in the 2009 Western Conference Semifinals, won by the Blackhawks in six games. Oct. 21: Canucks 3 at Blackhawks 2
In their first meeting since the 2009 playoffs, Vancouver received goals from rookie Michael Grabner and Samuelsson in the final 7:44 of the third period for a comeback win at United Center. Twice, Chicago squandered a one-goal lead, and the Canucks earned their first road victory of the season.
Luongo made 18 saves for the win.
"Obviously, nothing's going to bring back what happened last year," Luongo said. "They still won the series; we just won a game. But it's nice to be able to come in here and show we can win and just start moving on.
"I was real excited to come back here and play even though there aren't such great memories of last year. I knew the team wasn't going to have a problem getting up for this one."
Steve Bernier also scored for the Canucks. The Blackhawks got goals from Keith and Brouwer.Nov. 22: Blackhawks 1 at Canucks 0
Rookie Bryan Bickell
scored the only goal and Niemi made 30 saves for his second career shutout to lead Chicago to a win at General Motors Place.
Niemi made 11 saves in the third period as Vancouver made several bids to tie the score and force overtime. "Spectacular," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. "What an effort. What a game. That was a goalie win, hopefully you get five or six over the course of a year and that's one. I thought our 'D' played real well but he was spectacular."
Bickell hammered home a loose puck in the crease past Luongo 1:12 into the third period. It was his first NHL goal since April 8, 2007.Jan. 23: Blackhawks 1 at Canucks 5
The Canucks took a 3-0 lead after the first period and never looked back for the first home win of the season series.
The top line of Henrik (2-1-3) and Daniel Sedin (1-2-3) with Burrows (0-3-3) totaled 9 points, and Luongo made 43 saves.
With regular defensemen Sami Salo, Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa missing due to injury (replaced by Aaron Rome, Brad Lukowich and Nolan Baumgartner), Vancouver was outshot 44-28.
"It was a good, gutsy effort," defenseman Shane O'Brien said. "They got quite a few shots, but I think we did a pretty good job of limiting it to the outside. We know that if Luongo sees it he's going to stop it."
Samuelsson opened the scoring in the first period, followed by Henrik Sedin and Bernier. Chicago's only goal came from Toews in the third period. Niemi was pulled after the first period (9 saves on 12 shots) and replaced by Huet.March 5: Canucks 3 at Blackhawks 6
Chicago chased Luongo from the net in the first period, taking a 5-1 lead after 20 minutes. The Blackhawks received goals from six different players.
Ladd, Keith and Brouwer gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 lead in the first 10:53. After Kesler got the Canucks on the board with a goal, Kris Versteeg restored the three-goal lead only 59 seconds later, and Jordan Henry capped the first-period scoring.
Henry and Marian Hossa
each finished with a goal and an assist, and Toews had 2 assists. Thirteen different players recorded at least one point for Chicago.
Luongo stopped only 9 of 14 shots before being replaced by Andrew Raycroft. Huet made 20 saves for the win.Contact Rocky Bonanno at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Rocky Bonanno | NHL.com Staff Writer