VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks are going full-speed ahead after backing into the playoffs and dropping their first three playoff games against Vancouver.
In the playoffs only after Minnesota beat Dallas in the final game of the regular season, the Blackhawks routed Vancouver 5-0 on Thursday night to cut the Canucks’ lead to 3-2 in the first-round series.
Defenseman Duncan Keith(notes) had two goals and two assists for the Blackhawks, coming off a 7-2 victory in Chicago on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks return home for Game 6 on Sunday night looking to become the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 deficit.
“I think we are just trying to build on it one game at a time,” Keith said. “We got confidence last game. We just keep talking about one game at a time and keep going. We are focused and we believe. We’re back in it now. But we know there’s a lot of hockey and long tough road to go here, but we believe in this locker room.”
Marian Hossa(notes) scored his first two goals of the series. Hossa chased Canucks star goalie Roberto Luongo(notes) early in the second period, then was asked if the Blackhawks were back in Luongo’s head after eliminating the Canucks in the playoffs the last two seasons.
“I don’t know,” Hossa said. “I can’t see in his head.”
“It seems like everyone on our team is playing good hockey,” Crawford said.
Vancouver no longer looks like the team that won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best regular-season record. But there are lots of similarities to the squad that was knocked out the last two years.
“After three games, you would have thought that we were in their heads,” Luongo said. “Now all of a sudden it’s 3-2 and people suggest the opposite.”
Luongo, pulled in the third period of Game 4 after giving up six goals, didn’t make it through the second period this time. He was benched after giving up his fourth goal on 12 shots 1:26 into the second.
“We’re facing elimination every game here so our fight has to be here and I think that’s the difference,” Keith said. “It’s not a coincidence they are Presidents Trophy’ winners, so we got a lot of respect for them. But at the same time we believe we can play with them.”
Chicago played a second straight game without Brent Seabrook(notes), the defenseman who sustained a concussion when he was shouldered in the head by Raffi Torres(notes) in Game 3, a blow the Blackhawks felt deserved a suspension.
“There’s always motivation when you are facing elimination but when you see your teammate get hit like that, I don’t think anyone on our team liked the type of hit it was,” said Keith, addressing reporters with his defensive partner’s jersey hanging in the locker beside him. “We’ve moved on, but at the same time he’s a good teammate and friend and we use everything we can as motivation to come out fighting.”
After Crawford robbed Alex Burrows on an early power play, Hossa walked untouched into the high slot late in a Chicago advantage and snapped a shot past Luongo’s glove 5:54 into the game.
Keith doubled the lead 17 seconds later with a screened point shot. Kane tipped in a power-play point shot 6 minutes later to make it 3-0. Hossa ended Luongo’s night on a breakaway early in the second period, and Keith added his second goal—and fourth in three games.
“It’s the playoffs. It’s momentum back and forth and they have it right now and it’s up to us to take it back early on in Chicago,” Sedin said. “We’ve got to believe in ourselves. We have a great team here and we’ve got to show that.”
NOTES: Crawford also had an assist, his second of the series. … Vancouver made roster adjustments from Game 5. Aaron Rome(notes) was in for Keith Ballard(notes) as the sixth defenseman, Cody Hodgson(notes) was back on the third line, and Torres was dropped down to the fourth line in place of Victor Oreskovich(notes).