CHICAGO (AP) - The young Chicago Blackhawks wrested home-ice advantage away from the Vancouver Canucks with speed, resiliency and a relentless attack that produced five unanswered scores against one of the NHL's top goaltenders.
Chicago's ability to use long breakout passes helped the offense get moving. And moving is what the Blackhawks do best, a young team with skilled and quick skaters, who've also been able to create a crowd at the crease.
"That's one of our strengths, it's been one of our strengths all year, is our team speed and we feel like we have the ability to use it and when we are using it, we can carry the pace and push the pace of the play and make it tough on teams," Chicago's Adam Burish said. "When we do that and our 'D' is active, we come in waves."
That's what they did Saturday night in a 6-3 victory over the Canucks that tied the Western Conference semifinals at 1-1. Games 3 and 4 are Tuesday and Thursday at the United Center.
Trailing 2-0 after a pair of power play goals by Vancouver, the Blackhawks regrouped with a rush in the second period. Shortly after a spectacular diving stick save by Roberto Luongo against Ben Eager, the Blackhawks took off. They scored three times in the period - with the go-ahead score coming short-handed.
Dave Bolland broke free behind as the Canucks were on a power play, gloved a high clearing attempt from defenseman Duncan Keith and then went in and deked Luongo to make it 3-2.
"It's just a product of our forwards getting open and our defense recognizing it," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said.
"We've got some very capable guys that can move the puck back there and having that look and that pass has really helped us."
And as Vancouver tries to make adjustments and find a way to win at the United Center, the Canucks could be without versatile defenseman Sami Salo. He left the ice after scoring Vancouver's first goal Saturday night with a lower-body injury.
Salo didn't fly to Chicago on Sunday with the team, staying behind in Vancouver for treatment. His availability for Game 3 is not known. Center Ryan Johnson was on the flight and expected to play after an injury scare blocking a late shot.
The Canucks know they have to slow the Blackhawks down and be steadier with the puck and their defense.
"They're a good team, they can score in bunches," Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa said Sunday.
"We let off the gas in the second period there, had a couple goals we'd like to have back with defensive zone coverages and stuff like that. We didn't play our best hockey but you're not going to win every game in the playoffs."
Or as defenseman Willie Mitchell said of his team's play: "Lost coverages, bad pinches, just big, big errors that cost us. Missed coverage down low, guys walking out of the corner clean, a short-handed goal on a power-play situation with guys flying up the ice and no one covering, stuff like that can't happen at this time of year."
Winning if Salo is out will make it an even more difficult challenge.
"Obviously we'd like to have him in the lineup, we're a lot better team with him," Bieksa said. "Injuries are part of playoffs and we've been lucky enough to not have very many so far, so we'll have to get by this time and hope he gets back soon."
Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin got his first win over Vancouver since 1998. He'd been 0-11-1 since that victory 11 years ago.
"Getting this win was huge for him and huge for the team for sure, but I think huge for him on a personal level, just to get over that hump and realize that we can beat them and Khabi is a guy that can get us there," Seabrook said.
The Hawks, meanwhile, were able to solve Luongo - at least for one night. It was Vancouver's first loss in these playoffs after sweeping St. Louis in the first round.
"Sometimes you have one of those games as a team," Luongo said. "We've been playing really well for a while, so we just have to forget about it and get ready for Tuesday."