Sunday, May 9, 2010
Canucks rally to force Game 6
So what were the keys to Vancouver's win?
Well, for starters they finally drove to the front of the net with a purpose. Alexandre Burrows was especially prevalent. Parked perfectly in front of Niemi for Ehrhoff's 1-0 goal and Kevin Bieksa's 3-0 goal, Burrows also added an empty netter to cinch the victory. Burrows effort was perhaps only surpassed by Kevin Bieksa and Shane O'Brien who had memorable evenings on defense. Canucks D Sami Salo suffered an injury early in the game and the rest of the Canucks defense was forced into increased action. Kevin Bieksa showed his potential on this evening to be a game-breaking defenseman as he joined the rush for an important 2-0 goal and added another on his powerplay tally late in the second period to push the Canucks ahead 3-0.
Bieksa also added a helper and played nearly 20 minutes after two periods, easing back in the thid to 'only' 27 for the night. Ehrhoff and Edler were their usual steady selves but it was Shane O'Brien who likely captured his teammates' respect for his efforts this evening.
Midway through the game O'Brien took a Dustin Byfuglien follow through right to his forehead where he was split open and bleeding profusely. O'Brien left the ice immediately and returned a mere couple of minutes later with stitches to his face to join the Canucks short-handed defense corps. It took all of one shift for the Blackhawks to hone in on his injury as Andrew Ladd made no reservations at punching O'Brien and rubbing his face in a post-whistle scrum, re-opening the wound.
While no call was made on the play, the referees likely warned the Blackhawks about their post-whistle scrums as Dustin Byfuglien was called moments later for instigating a post-whistle scrum near goaltender Antti Niemi.
Aside from Shane O'Brien's demonstration of heart tonight, praise should also go to Roberto Luongo who silenced his critics for one night as he came up with an inspired performance and nearly grabbed a shutout were it not for a deft play by Jonathan Toews.
For the Hawks, Patrick Kane and the rest of the team seemed nervous and tentative and did not assert themselves as they did in games past.
The Canucks have forced a sixth game back in Vancouver on Tuesday and have regained the series' momentum. Luongo and his teammates will once again have to turn the other cheek and attempt to control a potent Chicago offense. Luongo will have to be his best, and the Canucks' forwards will likely have to generate more offense as many forwards would be well suited to contribute a bit more on the scoresheet.
Chalk this one up to the Canucks Defense and Roberto Luongo.