It wasn’t the kind of dominant win the Vancouver Canucks might have wanted to profoundly shake the Chicago Blackhawks from their psyches, but the Presidents’ Trophy winners will gladly take a 2-0 series lead from tonight’s win.
Vancouver 4, Chicago 3; Canucks lead series 2-0.
This Game 2 contest featured a mixture of the expected (a great performance by Hart Trophy frontrunner Daniel Sedin, who scored twice and recorded an assist) and the unexpected (Sedin’s goals being answered by two Ben Smith rebound goals, the first playoff tallies of his career). For a while, it seemed like the ‘Hawks might go into Game 3 wondering if they could solve Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. By the end, there were many left wondering if Luongo still needs to get that monkey off his back.
Viktor Stalberg’s goal might have been the best microcosm of the surprising sources of Chicago offense, as the forward’s quick release caught Luongo off-guard … but also surprised Stalberg, as he took a noticeable amount of time to realize he scored a goal.
Ultimately, the Blackhawks made too many mistakes, especially when the Sedin twins were on the ice. Daniel had his three points and Henrik showed up too, providing two helpers. Chicago rarely had a solution for the pairing beyond “Let’s hope Corey Crawford can handle it.”
Crawford had some great moments despite allowing four goals on 27 shots, but Luongo did enough to win again, stopping 23 out of 26.
The best team from the 2010-11 season has the defending Stanley Cup champions in a tough situation, but the Blackhawks host the next two games at the United Center, an arena that has been a House of Horrors for Luongo and the Canucks the past few playoff years. Perhaps Chicago built a little confidence in giving Vancouver a late run in Game 2, but the bottom line is that they must match the Canucks’ efforts with two home wins of their own if they have a chance to make this a series.
It’s been a thrilling (if occasionally messy) first two games, but we’ll see if Chicago can get back into this series in the next two games.