Now they are just one win away from a return trip to the Western Conference finals.
Toews scored three power-play goals and added two assists as the Blackhawks beat Vancouver 7-4 on Friday night and grabbed a 3-1 lead in the second-round series. The more the Canucks have taken bad penalties and displayed a lack of discipline, the more Chicago has made them pay with its lethal power play.
“We stuck with our game plan,” said Toews, who took over the NHL playoff scoring lead with 18 points. “We know now nothing they do or whatever is going to take us off that plan or away from what we are doing as a team.”
Patrick Sharp(notes) also scored on the power play and Tomas Kopecky(notes) added a goal shortly after another expired. Chicago, which went 4 for 8 with the man advantage, has won three straight after dropping the series opener at home.
“The power play had a heck of a night,” said Sharp, who added three assists.
Brent Seabrook(notes) scored 18 seconds in, Dave Bolland(notes) scored into an empty net with 37 seconds left, and Antti Niemi(notes) made 26 saves for Chicago, which can advance to hockey’s final four with a win at home on Sunday.
“It’s nice to get up in the series, but it’s far from over,” Toews said. “We’ll be happy when it’s over.”
After talking a lot between games about the need for better discipline and get more bodies to the Chicago net, Vancouver instead spent most of the night marching to the penalty box.
He combined with Toews to set up Seabrook’s goal on the first shift, and then drew consecutive cross-checking penalties on defenseman Shane O’Brien(notes). The 6-foot-4, 257-pound Byfuglien went straight to the net on the second, screening Luongo while Toews ripped a shot past both of them.
“They definitely paid attention to me a little bit more and got me a couple cross-checks, a couple penalties and that’s the way it goes,” Byfuglien said. “Some teams can’t hold it together and some teams let that stuff go.”
It was clear what side of that line the Canucks were on in the second period.
Toews, who had three assists in Game 3, added his second power-play goal 33 seconds into the middle period to put Chicago ahead 3-2. Sharp doubled that lead on a power play rebound scramble at 12:47, and the Canucks came apart.
Daniel Sedin(notes) was penalized for breaking his stick across Kris Versteeg(notes) after a whistle, and Alex Burrows cross-checked Byfuglien in the neck during a scramble. Toews converted the 5-on-3 advantage with 4:38 left in the period.
“We worked hard for those chances, so you’ve got to go out there and make it worthwhile on the power play,” Toews said. “They have their own personality and their own character and I guess what you see is what you get. It doesn’t matter what they are doing, we are sticking to our guns and to what works.”
“We didn’t react well to what was going on and they made us pay for it,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “I really believe that this group is ready for this moment, but obviously our actions right now are proving me wrong.”
Luongo has given up 13 goals the last seven periods.
“He’s the second-best goaltender on the ice,” Vigneault said.
NOTES: Chicago is 7 for 24 on the power play in the series, and is converting at 34.6 percent in the playoffs. The Canucks’ penalty-killing is last in the playoffs at 64.3 percent. … Vancouver shook up its lines and sat out $4-million forward Pavol Demitra(notes), who led the Olympics with 10 points in seven games. The Slovakian forward has only one assist against the Blackhawks.