BLACKHAWKS at CANUCKS
(Vancouver leads best-of-seven series, 3-1)
CBC (HD), VERSUS (HD), RDS (HD), CSN-CH (HD).
-- The Blackhawks face their second straight elimination game Thursday at Rogers Arena. They survived their first by blowing out the Canucks, 7-2, at United Center on Tuesday. Vancouver seemed undeterred by the loss even though it appeared to get rattled in the third period when a return trip home for Game 5 was already a forgone conclusion. The Canucks and Hawks combined for 88 penalty minutes in the third period Tuesday, and the feeling is that chippiness will carry over into Game 5.
-- They've talked all series about how beatable the Canucks are, and Tuesday the Blackhawks finally proved that to be true. They jumped all over Vancouver in the second period with four goals. Dave Bolland
made an inspirational return after missing six weeks with a concussion, scoring a goal and dishing out 3 assists for his first career 4-point game in the NHL. Now the Blackhawks have to do it all over again. They do not expect a similar five-goal difference in Game 5, but they're carrying renewed confidence and a bit of a swagger into Rogers Arena, where they've lost three out of four games this season.
"Not only did we need a win, but it was great to win big and prove a point," Hawks captain Jonathan Toews
said after Game 4. "We wanted to go out there and play for each other and everything finally snowballed in our favor. It gives us a lot of confidence going into Game 5. We're not looking forward to Game 6 or Game 7. The pressure is on them."
-- Stay the course and do not unravel -- those are the most important things the Canucks have to remember going into Game 5. Despite getting shellacked at United Center on Tuesday, Vancouver remains in complete control of this series up two games with the ability to close it out in its own building. The Canucks came undone in the third period of Game 4, but even Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said that was all score related. The game was well out of hand after two periods with the Hawks up 5-1.
The Canucks haven't suffered a loss like Tuesday's since Chicago beat them 7-1 at Rogers Arena on Nov. 20. It might have just been the turning point of their season because the Canucks lost only 13 more times in regulation over the final 63 games, going 44-13-6 to win the Presidents' Trophy with a franchise best 117 points and 54 wins.
"We're excited to play on home ice, in front of our fans and put out a really good game," Canucks center Ryan Kesler
said. "We're excited about this opportunity, we're in a good spot and we got to give them credit – they put their best game on the ice last game and we got to respond now."
-- Bolland had a huge night in his return, assisting on the Blackhawks first goal and registering 3 points on a goal and 2 assists in the second period. His linemates, Bryan Bickell
and Michael Frolik
, combined for 2 goals and 2 assists to give that trio a total of 8 points and a plus-12 rating in Game 4. Patrick Sharp
scored a pair of power play goals to give him 3 goals in the last two games.
For Vancouver, Daniel Sedin
scored again Tuesday giving him 4 goals and 2 assists in the series.
-- Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook
had to sit out Game 4 with an upper body injury (possible concussion, though the team has not said that to be true) stemming from the shoulder-to-head hit he received from Canucks forward Raffi Torres in Game 3. Seabrook traveled with the Blackhawks to Vancouver but his availability for Game 5 remains in question. Blackhawks forward Tomas Kopecky hasn't played since suffering an injury early in Game 1 and he is out for Game 5 as well.
-- For the first time in the series the Blackhawks were credited with more hits than the Canucks in Game 4 -- a 44-33 difference. ... Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo
, who was pulled with 15:55 remaining in Game 4, hadn't been pulled from a game since giving up four goals in 36 minutes to the Blackhawks on Nov. 20. ... Seabrook had played in all 85 games this season until he had to sit out Game 4.
-- "Just play hard, play the same way and keep it simple," Toews said of what the Hawks have to do to beat the Canucks again. "We know they're going to come back with a heck of an effort and being on the road we might have to weather a few storms. But, all four lines have to bring that effort. We played for each other (Tuesday). We played hard and we've got that confidence now that things went our way. That's all we need."