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Blackhawks Sat Apr 16 2011

Hawks Outplayed Again in Vancouver

In what can only be described as improvement after Wednesday's shutout, the Blackhawks lost 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks in Game Two of their first-round playoff series on Friday night. Jannik Hansen, Daniel Sedin (2) and Alexander Edler all scored easily for Vancouver, blowing past the Chicago defense to land beautiful shots in the back of the net.

hawks canucks vertical.PNGBen Smith scored twice for the Hawks, his second and third career goals. Viktor Stalberg scored early into the third period, only to be answered quickly by Daniel Sedin, pushing the Vancouver lead back to 4-2. Smith's second goal gave Chicago one last-ditch chance to tie the game at the end of the third, making for a furious, extra-attacker finish in the final 1:30.

The Canucks' early first-period goal means their record of wins after scoring in the first stands at 42-2-6, easily the best in the league.

In a major step up for the blatantly out-sized Blackhawks, they were only out-hit by Vancouver 45-40, compared to Wednesday's 47-21. However, an increase in Chicago's physical presence wasn't enough to translate to a win on Friday.

Overall, turnovers were the key to the loss. Vancouver finished with 15 takeaways, compared to Chicago's eight. The Blackhawks struggled to get the puck in Vancouver's zone, let alone set up offensive plays. Once again, the Canucks' defense kept the Blackhawks' passing lanes closed, forcing the Hawks to lose puck possession more than twice as much as they took it.

Crawford held his own again, despite Chicago being outshot by Vancouver 27-25.

Neither team was favored when it came to officiating though, as the referees again seemed to miss an extraordinary amount of penalty calls. Luckily no major injuries resulted, but with a possible five games left in the series referees need to step it up.

Going into Game Three, the Blackhawks have few excuses for a loss. Each team knows the other's weaknesses. But Chicago simply has been outplayed to this point. The Canucks clearly look like the top half of this 1-8 matchup.

Whether it's a change in the lines or a whole new strategy, coach Joel Quenneville undoubtedly will be hard at work figuring out something new before the two teams meet Sunday night at the United Center.

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