Why Vancouver Won:
They endured a fast start by the Blackhawks. They were being outskated and outplayed in the first six minutes of the first period. When Mason Raymond scored it took the electricity out of the home crowd at the United Center. From that point, the Canucks set the pace of play. They took advantage of their opportunities and were winning the battles along the boards. Vancouver went back to a dump and chase in Game 3 and it seemed to work. Their forecheck took the Chicago defenseman out of the game and made the Blackhawk defenseman start to think a little quicker than they would have liked to. Alex Edler had two assists and Roberto Luongo played well in net, stopping 23 of 24 shots.
Why Chicago Lost:
The thing that kept the Blackhawks from coming back was their sloppy play. They never seemed to have a good grasp on the puck and they seemed to get bunched up a lot at the Vancouver blue line. Nikolai Khabibulin played well, but he did not do a great job controlling his rebounds. Chicago never got their power play moving in the right direction. Every time the Blackhawks would set up shop in the Canucks’ zone, an errant pass or a defenseman mishandling the puck would send the puck all the way down to the Blackhawks’ zone. Brian Campbell was the only bright spot. He blistered a slap shot past Luongo on the power play for the Blackhawks’ only tally. He was consistently moving the puck up for the Blackhawks as they seemed to have a tough time getting past center ice.
Key Moment in the Game:
After the first period, the game was still pretty tight with Vancouver up one. When Steve Bernier slid a shot past Khabibulin only a minute into the second period to make it 2-0, it silenced the crowd and took all the wind out of the Blackhawks’ sail. After that point, the Blackhawks never got any real offensive momentum going and Vancouver started to dictate the play. When Henrik Sedin’s goal dribbled over the line, it seemed like it was going to put an end to any Blackhawk hope and that was late in the second period. Vancouver was catching the bounces and their goaltending was good. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Game 4 is Thursday night in Chicago. The Canucks lead the series 2-1. If Chicago can get their hands on Game 4, it will make it a very interesting series going back north of the boarder. If Vancouver can swipe another game in Chicago, they will have a strangle hold on the Blackhawks going back on home ice. Game 4 will make or break this series. The Blackhawks are going to have to tighten things up if they want to have a chance in Game 4. Vancouver is going to have to continue to take advantage of their opportunities and Luongo is going to have to keep up his high level of play.