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Canucks host Hawks in pivotal Game 3

by Dave Lozo /


(Best-of-7 series tied 1-1)

Big story -- Chicago was on the verge of giving away the series, trailing 2-0 early to the Canucks in Game 2 after getting smoked 5-1 in Game 1. But the Hawks got it together and clawed back for a 4-2 victory that evened the series. It was the first time the entire postseason that the Canucks had been dominated at 5-on-5. If the Blackhawks can match their level of play on Wednesday, they should be able to take back home-ice advantage in this series.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks -- The comeback win in Game 2 was a result of a great effort over the final 50 minutes, but it was also necessary after falling behind 2-0 in the first period for the second straight game. Patrick Sharp, whose shorthanded goal early in the third period tied the game at 2-2, couldn't put his finger on the reason for the slow start.

"I think it was a little bit of everything," he said. "We talked for the last day and half about coming out with a better effort, and wanting to play strong. I'm not exactly sure what happened -- maybe trying a little too hard."

Game 2 was also a great bounce-back effort from goaltender Antti Niemi, who was pulled after allowing five goals on 25 shots over the first two periods of Game 1. He rebounded with a 24-save effort and kept the Blackhawks within striking distance after falling behind early.

"He was great," Sharp said. "He kept us in it. We were chopping the puck up into pieces the first couple minutes of the game. He woke us up and got us going."

Canucks -- Composure hasn't been a problem during the postseason. After taking Game 1 against the Kings in the first round, the Canucks dropped Games 2 and 3 before winning three straight to take the series.

Their mettle will be tested again in Game 3, and Mikael Samuelsson feels this setback is nothing the team can't handle.

"It's still 1-1 and we're looking forward to the next game," Samuelsson said. "Nobody expected us to win in four straight games. It's going to be a battle and it should be a battle."

Vancouver was outscored 3-1 at even strength in Game 2, marking the first time they lost the 5-on-5 battle in eight games this postseason.

Who's hot -- Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook has a goal and six assists in his last four games after being held without a point for the first four games of the postseason. … All of the Canucks' big guns have been firing throughout the postseason, but Mason Raymond has a pair of goals and an assist in the first two games of this series.

Injury report -- There are no new injuries for either team entering Game 3, and it's likely that the Canucks and Blackhawks will ice the same lineups as they did in Game 2.

Stat pack -- In last year's second-round matchup between these teams, the Canucks took Game 1 and blew a two-goal lead before losing Game 2. In this year's matchup, the Canucks took Game 1 and blew a two-goal lead before losing Game 2. If you believe history repeats itself, the Canucks won Game 3 last year.

Puck drop -- "We were better in the first game, they were better (on Monday) night. We're going to do everything we can (Wednesday) night to be better. Obviously we had an opportunity to make that game 3-1, but we let it slip. We're going to have to deal with it and get better." -- Canucks coach Alain Vigneault

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