Chicago didn't do anything different or better in the second period Tuesday night. The Blackhawks mainly just kept the pressure on the Canucks and their goalie, Roberto Luongo, who was awesome through the first 20 minutes.
However, by the 2:36 mark everything was indeed different -- and, yes, better.
Troy Brouwer, motivated by his father's slow recovery from a blood clot in his brain, scored on a chip-in from the high slot two minutes into the period. Thirty-six seconds later Kris Versteeg picked up an errant pass by Kevin Bieksa in the neutral zone, challenged Luongo from the right circle and beat him on the blocker side.
All of a sudden it was 2-0 and Chicago never looked back on the way to a series-clinching 5-1 victory in Game 6.
"(Luongo) was phenomenal in that first period. I think we should have been up 3-0, but he stood on his head and gave his team a chance," Versteeg said. "Luckily we kept bringing it to him and fortunately we got some goals and got on a role."
Brouwer's goal served as the Hawks' inspiration.
His father, Don Brouwer, has been laid up in a hospital roughly 30 minutes outside the city boundaries here after requiring surgery to repair a broken blood vessel in his brain. Brouwer was so focused on his father that he was unable to play in the last three games, but he was reinserted into the lineup Tuesday and scored his first career playoff goal in a big moment.
"That's a huge goal at a huge time by a guy that needed it," Patrick Sharp
, who made the pass to set up the goal, told NHL.com.
If Brouwer's goal was the inspiration, then Dave Bolland
's goal was the dagger.
The Hawks' third-line center scored on a shorthanded breakaway with 44.7 seconds left in the period to give Chicago an insurmountable 3-0 lead. With Duncan Keith
in the penalty box for slashing, Bolland stole the puck from Pavol Demitra at the Hawks' blue line and raced down the ice, ignoring Demitra's attempts to slow him down, before beating Luongo.
All of Vancouver was stunned. The Blackhawks were relieved.
"The second goal kind of does (give you a sense of relief), but the third goal does more," Versteeg told NHL.com. "When we get that third goal and then (Antti) Niemi and the guys keep the puck out of the back of the net in the last four seconds of the period, that's a big swing."
The Hawks realized the magnitude of Bolland's goal when Shane O'Brien scored for the Canucks 3:44 into the third period. Instead of being up only one goal, they still had a two-goal cushion with less than 17 minutes to play.
"They get a goal there to make it 2-1 and it's a different game, but we ended up scoring," Keith told NHL.com. "It felt good for me because I was in the box. That was a huge goal."
In between the goals by Versteeg and Bolland, the Blackhawks exerted their will on the Canucks. In the second period alone, Chicago won 12 of 15 faceoffs, outshot the Canucks by an 11-6 margin, delivered 11 hits and blocked five shots.
"We just came out hard," Keith said. "Both teams came out hard, but for whatever reason whoever gets that first goal, it's a bit of a relief because both teams can clamp down pretty good when they get the lead. It always relieves some pressure when you get that two goal lead."
The Blackhawks needed exactly 156 seconds to get it. Game over.Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer