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Wednesday, October 18

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Blackhawks Mon Apr 18 2011

Canucks Push Hawks to the Brink

Through all the trials and tribulations of a frustrating season, the Blackhawks could fall back on their position as defending Stanley Cup champions. But now they're one loss away from losing that title after Vancouver won 3-2 on Sunday night, taking a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series.

Thumbnail image for hawks canucks vertical.PNGDuncan Keith and Patrick Sharp scored for the Hawks, but Christian Ehrhoff and Daniel Sedin matched them in the second period and Mikael Samuelsson put the Canucks ahead at 6:48 of the third.

The dirty hockey of the Canucks' regular season made its first true playoff appearance, with winger Rafi Torres handing out the ugliest hit. Torres' head check on Brent Seabrook landed him only two minutes in the box, but will likely be met with a multi-game suspension from the NHL on Monday. [UPDATE: Or not.] This is nothing new for Torres, as Sunday night's game was his return from a four-day suspension for a similar cheap shot.

Torres didn't return to the game after the second-period hit and didn't talk to reporters afterward.

Vancouver spent a total of 14 minutes in the box, compared to Chicago's four, but referees still continued to miss calls again on Sunday, something that's quickly becoming a trend in this series.

Chicago came out physically aggressive as well on Sunday night, and the two teams ended the game tied in hits. The Blackhawks came out on top in shots on goal, 32-26. Overall the offense looked significantly better, but the Hawks just couldn't get past Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who has upped his save percentage from .928 in the regular season to .944 in this series.

We need look back only one year to find an NHL team that rallied from a 3-0 deficit, but Tuesday will be the first of as many as four straight do-or-die games for the Hawks. Coach Joel Quenneville will likely change up the lines once again, with center Dave Bolland expected to play his first game since a March 9 concussion.

Vancouver may be buying up brooms in preparation for a sweep, but if the Hawks can continue the improvement they've shown in each game, they might allow Canucks fans to save the brooms for spring cleaning.

 
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