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GAME CHANGER - April 30, 2009

NHL.com @NHL
 
The plays that turn the tide in every game of playoff action -- that is what the beauty of hockey history is built on.

Check back every night following all the 2009 playoff action to witness NHL.com's game-changing moment from each game, as well as the rest of each game's goals, saves and hits.

You can vote on the night's best Game Changer.  Cast your votes after the night's action.

Thanks to all who voted -- and enjoy the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs!




Chicago at Vancouver - Game 1

With just one game on the playoff schedule tonight, we present five possible game-changers for you to think about.

1) Kesler pads Canucks lead:  Clinging to a 2-0 lead in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Blackhawks were starting to apply a little pressure on Roberto Luongo and the Canucks. But Kyle Wellwood's shifty pass helped Vancouver to extend its lead.

With less than five minutes to go in the second period, Alexander Edler took a shot from the Chicago blue line that was blocked by a defenseman. Wellwood picked up the puck near the goal line and slipped behind the net. He came to a stop and threw the puck in front to Ryan Kesler, who one-timed it past Nikolai Khabibulin.

Kesler's first career playoff goal turned out to be crucial, as the Canucks went on to defeat the Blackhawks 5-3 in Game 1. 


2) Khabibulin kick save: Trailing 3-1 in Game 1, the Blackhawks were desperately trying to get back into the game with the Canucks. Nikolai Khabibulin provided a spark of life for Chicago midway through the second period.

After a Blackhawks turnover at their own blue line, the puck drifted right to Mason Raymond. Raymond skated in with just one defender between him and the goal. Raymond ripped a quick snap shot, but Khabibulin kicked aside the sneaky shot with a beautiful pad save.

Khabibulin finished the game with 22 saves and that specific kick save helped Chicago get back in the game.



3) Kane gets Hawks within one: While Patrick Kane's tally early in the third period had given Chicago some life, Vancouver appeared well in control with a two-goal edge. But Kane would score again 10 minutes later to pull Chicago within one. From that point on the Hawks would dominate the pace of play and possession of the puck, completely changing the sense of urgency on both sides of the ice and stopping the hearts of the Vancouver faithful.

What looked like a sure victory for the Canucks was suddenly very much in doubt late in regulation.
 


4) Bolland ties the game: Chicago had looked listless for much of the game before Patrick Kane scored twice in the third period to make it close. But Dave Bolland would be the man who really quieted GM Place. On a rush into the Vancouver end with just under six minutes to go, Duncan Keith took a shot from the point that was stopped by Roberto Luongo. Bolland found the rebound at the side of the net and took the puck from his backhand to his forehand before burying it past Luongo to tie the game.

A huge lead for Vancouver had shockingly disappeared. Bolland's tally completed the Hawks' trip back.



5) Salo finishes Hawks: Having seen their three-goal lead disappear in the third period, the Canucks seemed to be on the ropes. But Sami Salo reassured the Vancouver faithful that this Canucks team was here to win.

Kyle Wellwood came out of the Vancouver defensive zone and found Mason Raymond streaking up the ice. Raymond carried the puck in where it became a three-on-one for the Canucks with just defenseman Matt Walker back. Raymond made an unbelievable pass through the stick of Walker to Bernier, who snapped a quick shot that was stopped by Nikolai Khabibulin, but Sami Salo was there to bang home the rebound.

Salo's goal with 1:13 left in regulation lifted the Canucks to a critical Game 1 victory over the Blackhawks.

FINAL SCORE: Canucks 5, Blackhawks 3



 








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