Darren Eliot
Sunday May 3rd, 2009

Chicago Blackhawks netminder Nik Khabibulin hadn't beaten the Vancouver Canucks in eleven years. He had lost six-straight to counterpart Roberto Luongo, including Game One of this series. Khabibulin had that history to contend with as well as the fact that he gave up two early goals to the Canucks' power play on back-to-back point blasts from Sami Salo and Alex Edler, respectively.

Yet, the veteran netminder made two critical quality saves to open the second period to keep the score 2-0. From there, the Blackhawks offense got untracked, unleashing a 13-5 shot barrage and counting three goals to secure a 3-2 forty-minute lead on their way to a 6-3 (BOX | RECAP) win.

Actually, the Blackhawks began to carry the play back in the first shortly after falling behind 2-0. But until the second, it didn't garner much in the way of chances. The Canucks defended well and looked in complete control after the first.

Instead, the Blackhawks competed harder down low in the offensive zone and saw Patrick Sharp net two tallies to knot the score. Then, David Bolland snuck behind everyone while killing a penalty and beat Luongo cleanly on a breakaway. The Blackhawks continued in the third, with Adam Burish speeding on the outside before dishing to a bulldozing Ben Eager at the top of Luongo's crease. The onslaught wrapped up with a beautiful give-and-go between Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane -- the most dangerous attacker on either side all night long.

That's five straight goals -- after potting three-straight in the third period in Game One before succumbing late. In other words, this Blackhawks attack is potent, can score in bunches and doesn't lack confidence. They've scored three goals in five different periods already in this postseason. That is simply a staggering stat and serves as a testament to what they are capable of. The specter of Luongo looming large? Forget about it. The boys from the Windy City can wind it up offensively at any time.

Now they head home with the minimum desired split. They have balance and belief on offense. While Kane was at his crafty best, Boland, Burrish and Troy Brouwer displayed impressive versatility. They are a tough defensive unit for Coach Joel Quenneville and as such were on the ice protecting what had become a 5-3 lead late in the third after a Henrik Sedin powerplay goal. Bolland scored into an empty net with a heady no look backhand from the neutral zone to account for the final score.

While trailing, though, Quenneville broke the trio up and put one guy on each of his other lines. Brouwer really stood out doing the heavy lifting along the boards with Kane and Toews -- who played his best game since Game Four of the first round -- with Bolland and Burish adding offensive punch elsewhere as well. Lost in all of the forwards' fine work was the fact that defenseman Brent Seabrook now has a five-game point streak going, as he picked up a helper along the way.

The streaks of import, however, are the ones that Khabibulin put behind him: No more consecutive losses to either the Canucks or Luongo. Instead, Khabibulin is secure in the knowledge that a couple of timely saves is all this Blackhawks' offense needs to get on a streak of their own.

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