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The Goods: Tied heading home

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

You want to know what happened in the Canucks game and you want to know now. We get it. Here’s the bare bones recap of Vancouver’s 4-2 loss to Chicago in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semi-Final.

IT WAS OVER WHEN...

…Chicago won a battle for puck possession in the neutral zone allowing Patrick Kane’s wayward backhand to find the empty net and seal a 4-2 Blackhawks win in Game 2.

After a rousing rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner, it was the Blackhawks seeing stars as the Canucks leapt in front 1-0 off Mason Raymond’s third goal of the playoffs just 1:22 in.

Vancouver doubled its lead at the 5:02 mark when Mikael Samuelsson converted a perfecting passing play from Henrik Sedin on the power play.

Fans of both teams weren’t sure how to react with the Canucks outscoring the Blackhawks 7-1 in the series, going back to Game 1, but the Central Division champs finally came alive off a Brent Seabrook goal midway through the frame.

Chicago carried what momentum it stole from Vancouver into the second, yet goals were hard to come by thanks to the steadfast play of Roberto Luongo. Antti Niemi was equally impressive, leading to a 20 minute showdown for the win.

The fourth goal of the game proved to be game-changer; the Patrick Sharp shorthanded score re-ignited the crowd and had Chicago playing like Chicago for the first time all series.

Vancouver responded with aggression and the teams appeared destined for overtime before Kris Versteeg put the game-winner past Luongo with 1:30 to play.

With the Canucks captain on the bench, Kane netted his sixth goal of the post-sesaon to send this series to Vancouver even at 1-1.

CLUTCH CANUCK

There’s a reason everybody loves Mason Raymond and he showed it for the second consecutive game.

Raymond, the game’s second star, was Vancouver’s best forward as he picked up his third goal of the playoffs off a scramble near the Chicago crease; his score a mere 1:22 after puck drop was exactly the spark the visitors were looking for.

With only 10 playoff games on his resume coming into this season, Raymond has played beyond his years and been a reliable source of offence and forechecking for Alain Vigneault.

Raymond has been rewarded for his exceptional start to the series with increased ice time, the Hawks got 3:40 more of the 24-year-old in this outing than the first. Although Raymond’s 18:54 was sixth for Canucks in Game 2, he led the team in average shift length at 47 seconds.

UNSUNG HERO

Roberto Luongo won’t look back on this game with fond memories, but he played better than the score indicates.

Luongo stopped 30 of 32 shots before Kris Versteeg beat him stick side off a scramble deep in the Canucks zone to give the Blackhawks the upper hand. Were it not for the tending of Luongo in the second and midway through the third, this game would have been decided in Chicago’s favour a lot sooner.

Though eight games Luongo is 11th in the NHL in save percentage at .908% and 10th in goals against average at 2.69. Only Tuukka Rask and Evgeni Nabokov have more wins than Luongo thus far.

FIVE OR BUST

Goals equal wins for the Canucks, more so than any other team in the playoffs this season.

Vancouver has average five goals per game in their five post-season wins to date, including a 5-1 drubbing of Chicago in Game 1, whereas the Canucks have scored a measly 2.3 goals per game in three losses.

The Canucks lead the NHL in scoring after eight games with 32 goals, the same as the Detroit Red Wings who have played an extra game. Vancouver is the lone team averaging four goals a game, although, as mentioned, the team has only found success when surpassing that mark.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Prior to giving up two goals in 42 seconds to end Game 2, the Canucks had been a lethal third period team in terms of goals for and against at plus-7.

A Kris Versteeg wrist shot and Patrick Kane backhand later and Vancouver dropped to plus-5, unable to deliver a knockout play to Chicago while playing with a third period lead for the second straight game.

The Blackhawks have by no means been third period juggernauts with a minus-3 third differential coming into this tilt. Chicago is now at minus-1 with confidence and momentum seemingly on its side.

NEXT UP

The Canucks and Blackhawks shuffle their act to General Motors Place in Vancouver for Games 3 and 4, which will play out Wednesday and Friday.

Vancouver has won two of three games on home ice, outscoring its opposition by a 15-7 mark. Chicago has also won two of three away from home, although by a slim 9-7 margin.


SERIES

1-1 tie, Game 3 Wednesday

Inside the Game
 
NUMB3RS

0 – Power play goals allowed by the Canucks.

1 – Goal for Mason Raymond, he's scored in two consecutive games.

5 – Game point-streaks ended for Daniel and Henrik Sedin.

6-5 – Vancouver's record on the road in Game 2s since 1994.

30 – Saves by Roberto Luongo.

OFFENCE

This was another balanced scoring effort with six Canucks picking up points, although after Samuelsson's goal 5:02 into the first period, Vancouver failed to put enough pressure on Antti Niemi.

Vancouver was outshot by Chicago 34-26.

DEFENCE

Vancouver's regular season defensive leader in plus/minus, Christian Ehrhoff (plus-35), had an off night as he was on the ice for all but the empty net goal against.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Canucks were 1-for-6 on the power play with seven shots. The Blackhawks were 0-for-2 with two attempts.

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