With another chance to send the Chicago Blackhawks packing, the Vancouver Canucks fell flat once again losing 5-0 Thursday night at Rogers Arena in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal.
The Canucks now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
Both teams picked up right where they left off from Game 4 with Chicago opening the scoring for the third consecutive game as Marian Hossa scored his first of the playoffs on the power play 5:54 into the first period.
Twenty-four seconds later Duncan Keith made it a 2-0 game and it was déjà-vu for the Canucks.
Patrick Kane had the Blackhawks up 3-0 after 20 minutes and second goals from Hossa and Keith made it a 5-0 game in the second period; Corey Crawford finished the game stopping all 36 shots against for his first career post-season shutout.
If you’re still reading this, bravo. It’s as a difficult to digest now as it was to witness and no magical wordplay on my part will ease the pain of having dropped back-to-back games by a combined score of 12-2.
You have questions and only the Canucks have answers.
“Like we said before the series, there's ups and downs in the playoffs and the key is we got to stay composed here,” said Roberto Luongo, who was pulled for the second straight game after allowing four goals on 12 shots, but will start Game 6 in Chicago.
“We’ve got to take a deep breath here, relax a little bit. I think it's a good thing we got a couple days to regroup as a team and get back to doing what we do best.”
Vancouver and Chicago have two days off before Game 6 Sunday night in Chicago, two days for the Canucks to reflect on what made them successful during the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy season.
Daniel Sedin, for one, believes it’s a lack of effort that is hurting the Canucks right now.
“We need to get our work boots on and that’s the only way we’re going to turn this thing around,“ said Daniel, who had a three-game point streak snapped. “It’s pretty easy, we need 20 guys stepping on that ice and working harder than they are and right now we’re not getting that.
“We still believe, that’s the last thing we’re going to give up.”
Henrik echoed his brother’s sentiments saying the Canucks need to play as a five-man unit and help each other more.
“We’ve got to play a lot better, in front of our home crowd here to lose like that, it’s a tough one,” he said. “We’re a good road team, we’ve shown that before, but we’ve got to play as a team, go out there and play as a five-man unit and believe in ourselves. We have a great team in here and we have to show that.
“We’re not down 3-0, we’re up 3-2 and we’ve got to get in there and play a lot better.”
Cory Schneider, who played over 38 minutes in relief of Luongo, stopped 13 of 14 shots.
How difficult was it giving up the first goal?
“Our gap wasn’t good and we gave Hossa a prime spot, he was teeing it up from the ladies tee right there. He had a pretty good scoring opportunity and he scored.”
How deflating were the quick back-to-back goals again tonight?
“They’ve got momentum on their side right now, but all year long this group has been accountable, our leadership guys and each and every player in that room is a good leader, they’ve responded. Obviously tonight we didn’t have the response we wanted, but I have a lot of confidence in our guys and it’s up to us to go out and prove it.”
Are you getting enough from your top six forwards?
“We need more from our four lines and we need more from our six defencemen and we need more from our goaltender. Everybody can do more, I can do better, and each and every one of our players can do better and that’s what we’re going to work on starting tomorrow.”
Are you surprised by the back-to-back losses?
“We’ve lost two games here and obviously there’s going to be a lot of questions on our group coming from the head coach and the other coaches, but I’ve got tremendous faith in these players and a tremendous belief in what they can do. It’s up to us now to go out there and not say it, but do it.”
When you say that you can be better, how so?
“They’ve got the momentum right now so I’ve got to work with my group to find a way to get that momentum back.”
The last time Luongo was pulled in consecutive games was in late March of 2008; the Canucks are 12-11 all-time with the opportunity to clinch a best-of-seven series; Vancouver thumped Chicago in hits 40-14 led by Maxim Lapierre’s career-high nine.