For 40 minutes, the Chicago Blackhawks did all they could to undermine their best efforts. They put the hometown Canucks on the power play seven times in the first two periods. The only possible good news is that the 'Hawks penalty killers got the job done six times. Still, the Canucks easily staked themselves to a 3-0 lead heading into the third.
Maybe that was the problem for the Canucks -- everything came too easily. A first-round sweep, 10 days off and a 3-0 lead -- it doesn't get much comfier than that this time of year. But that soon changed to begin the final stanza. Paced by
All those early penalties stopped Chicago from establishing any kind of offensive flow. In the third, its aggressive defensemen had Vancouver reeling -- for a while, at least. But just as the all out, five-man pressure aided the comeback; it ultimately undid the 'Hawks as they pushed for the win late in the third. A four-man rush for Chicago turned into a 3-on-1 against, with
Despite the penalties, this game didn't have the anticipated punishing physical edge.
Expect Game 2 to be more physical and more intense. This one was interesting, but uneven on both sides. That will change Saturday, with both teams executing more consistently.