Saturday, May 9, 2009

Canucks Fall 4-2 to Hawks & Now Face Elimination

The Canucks now find themselves in a "must win" situation in their series with the Blackhawks as Chicago skated away with a 4-2 at GM Place in Game 5 Saturday night.

For the first time in the series, the Hawks opened up the scoring. Brian Campbell's point shot wound up being kicked away by Roberto Luongo. The rebound wound up being gobbled up by Dustin Byfuglien and put past the Canucks captain. Kris Versteeg gets credit for the other assist on Byfuglien's first goal of the series and 2nd of the playoffs at 15:27.

Before the period was out, the Canucks were able to pull back to level terms. While on a power play, Kyle Wellwood was able to take a pass from behind the net from Mats Sundin. His attempted feed in front deflected off a Hawks skate to the top of the crease for Ryan Kesler, who saw his re-direct go through the pads of Nikolai Khabibulin. Kesler notches his first goal of the series, which also proved to be his 2nd of the post season at 17:54.

Vancouver managed to get into the lead just past the midway point of the game. Henrik Sedin moved the puck up the middle of the ice for Sundin. As he broke up the left wing and hit the face off circle, he stepped into a slap shot that wizzed up Khabibulin on the short side. Sundin's 2nd of the playoffs put the Canucks up by a goal at 11:16.

The intensity and emotion picked up for the remainder of the frame and there were plenty of good hits thrown. There was also lots of rough stuff after the whistles and with under three minutes to go, the Canucks found themselves short handed. Kesler's attempt to clear the puck out of the zone would be blocked at the point by Campbell. His quick feed to high in the slot found Byfuglien who ripped a shot through the pads of Luongo. His 3rd of the playoffs came at 18:22.

Wellwood got a great chance to get Vancouver back in the lead with 9:30 remaining in the third period, but his chance from between the hash marks hit the post.

With a little less than six minutes left in regulation time, Kevin Bieksa took a careless high sticking penalty that allowed Chicago to go to work on the man advantage. The Canucks had a couple of chances to clear the puck out but they were foiled by the Hawks who got it in deep. Duncan Keith rimmed the puck around the net for Patrick Kane on the right boards. His cross zone pass found a wide open Dave Bolland in the left face off circle. Luongo had no chance as Bolland cashed in with his 4th goal of the playoffs and the eventual game winner came at 14:55.

Shortly afterwards, Kesler took a holding penalty that the Canucks had to kill off, limiting their chances to draw back into a tie game. Once things got back to even strength, Luongo got to the bench for the extra attacker. However, Kesler and Sami Salo accidentally collided into each other inside the Hawks blue line which allowed Martin Havlat an easy opportunity to find the empty net. Havlat extends his point-scoring streak to three games with his 5th of the playoffs at 18:55.

Final shots on net did favour Chicago 30-21. The Canucks went 1-for-2 on the power play while the Hawks went 2-for-5.

The Canucks have been out-scored 9-3 in the third periods of this series and have generated just five power play opportunities in their last eight periods of play.

For the first time in the post-season, the Canucks find themselves trailing a playoff series and at the same time find themselves on the brink of elimination from the playoffs. Game 6 at the United Center is scheduled for Monday night at 6:00pm PST.

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