Workmanlike Canucks let air out of Blackhawks' feel-good balloon
The Canucks played a textbook road game on Tuesday night. Two days earlier, in Game 2, they'd suffered a 6-3 drubbing when outskated decisively by the young Blackhawks, who wrested home-ice advantage. But on Tuesday, the road team withstood an energetic, five-minute opening charge. For the last 55 minutes, the Canucks poured molasses all over the game and clumped away with a well-constructed 3-1 win.
The Blackhawks needed an ocean of Drano to unclog the neutral zone. Every long and even medium-range pass met with an interception or deflection from Vancouver sticks. The Canucks were not excessively physical, as many defensive smotherings tend to be. Instead, they kept a third man high, cut off passing lanes, blocked shots, controlled the puck, played more of the game along the wall until they reached Chicago's zone and, in the words of their head coach
"We didn't want to play this game chance-for-chance," Vigneault said after the game.
The Canucks managed only three shots on goal in each period, but made the most of them. Vigneault also came up looking good on some key decisions. He replaced injured forward
Raymond, who amassed only 24 points during the regular season, scored Vancouver's first goal of the game with 4½ minutes to play in the first period after Chicago goalie
Between games, Vigneault had talked at length about his players keeping the game North-South, not making the unnecessary lateral pass, and limiting traffic in front of superstar goaltender
With the Canucks already solidly ahead 3-0 midway through the second period, Campbell beat Luongo with a slapper from center ice, just inside the blue line, for the only Blackhawks goal of the night. The rest of the way was farily ho-hum as the Canucks took a pair of minors for delay of game (shooting the puck out of play) early in the third period, but Chicago managed only one shot on the two advantages combined.
The home team had a tree's worth of great press clippings to read after a solid second game that confirmed its ability to use its speed, rally from deficits, and play with poise beyond its playoff experience. But the Canucks ruined the plot with a stifling game plan. If there was a silver lining to a game like this for the Hawks, coach
"I didn't like anything about our game," he said.