Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Canucks Take Game 3 at United Center

The Canucks regained home ice advantage Tuesday night in Chicago by posting a 3-1 lead against the Blackhawks in Game 3 of their Western Conference Semi Final series. It was a solid all-around defensive effort on a night which saw the return of Taylor Pyatt to the Vancouver line-up.

The visitors had a 1-0 lead through the opening period of play. Kevin Bieksa started the play by making a good pinch in off the point to intercept a pass on the half wall. He was able to get the puck free to Ryan Kesler who wasted no time finding a wide open Mason Raymond in front. He had little troubling beating Nikolai Khabibulin high under the cross bar for his first ever playoff goal. The Canucks, who opened the scoring for the sixth time in the playoffs, did so at 15:34.

Vancouver started the second period on the power play and wasted little time capitalizing with the extra skater on the ice. Alexander Edler was able to get a point shot free on target. His chance was denied on a pad save, but Steve Bernier was successful in depositing his chance. Daniel Sedin chips in the other assist on Bernier's 2nd of the post-season. It aslo proved to be his first game-winning marker of the playoffs exactly one minute into the middle frame.

Just prior to the midway stage of the game, the two teams skated 4-on-4. Edler did good work inside the Hawks blue-line to get the puck in deep. However he was even better picking off a clearing attempt from Duncan Keith in the slot. Edler got the puck down low beside the net for Henrik Sedin, who's shot got through Khabibulin's pads and trickled just across the goal line. Henrik's team-leading 4th goal of the playoffs put the Canucks in the driver's seat at 8:40.

The shut-out bid of Roberto Luongo came to an end a few shifts later. Chicago was able to go to work on the power play and Brian Campbell's point shot found the back of the net with traffic in front of the Canucks captain. Martin Havlat and Keith chip in the helper's on Campbell's first point of the series. It was also his second goal of the playoffs at 11:09.

The Canucks had not lost a game in regulation time all year when leading after 40 minutes and they were not about to let that happen on this night. They did have a bit of puck luck on their side as a Chicago pass towards the net took a nasty deflection off the stick of Mattias Ohlund. Thankfully for him and his teammates the puck wound up bouncing off the cross bar.

Bernier nearly put the game on ice with a little more than nine minutes remaining. However his point-blank chance beside the crease would be robbed on a great pad stop by the Hawks veteran netminder.

At the other end of the rink, Luongo and those in front of him did a good job of shutting the door down the stretch. The Hawks had 10 shots in the final period, but weren't able to get closer on the scoreboard as Vancouver skated away with their third straight road win in the playoffs.

Final shots on net favoured Chicago 24-21. The Canucks capped off the night going 1-for-4 on the power play and were a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill.

The club will practice tomorrow at the United Center in preparation for their next game in the Windy City. Game 4 goes Thursday night at 5:00pm PST.

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