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Blackhawks Thu Apr 14 2011

Hawks Start Title Defense With Shutout Loss

Despite 32 shots on goal -- three of them off the post -- the Blackhawks were shut out by Roberto Luongo and the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in Wednesday's playoff opener, losing 2-0 after allowing two first-period goals.

hawks canucks vertical.PNGRight-winger Troy Brouwer made his return to the ice after being out since early March with an upper body injury, but in keeping with this season's Blackhawks' injury curse, Tomas Kopecky left the game because of an upper body injury after only 2:22 on the ice.

The Hawks were blatantly outplayed in the first period, with both of the Canucks' goals scored in the first 20 minutes. The Hawks' defense couldn't get past the physical play of Vancouver, with the Canucks out-hitting Chicago 47-21.

The second period showed significant improvement from the Blackhawks, with Luongo barely saving their biggest scoring chance with the toe of his right skate.

Marian Hossa had a breakaway chance he couldn't complete in the third, where the teams played a more even game.

Rookie goalie Corey Crawford had a more than respectable game, with 31 saves compared to Luongo's 32.

Overall, the first-game loss was expected for the eighth-seeded Blackhawks. The underdogs will need to make significant improvements for Game Two on Friday, perhaps changing up offensive plays to allow for open passing lanes against Vancouver's aggressive defense.

ESPN reported that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was hopeful that center Dave Bolland would return later in the series, which could help their physical presence immensely if Bolland is placed back on the Brouwer line.

 
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