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Canucks now in the know, but knowing is only half the battle
By Mike Spellman | Daily Herald Staff

Roberto Luongo makes a save during Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal game against the Blackhawks. Luongo has saved 54 of the Hawks' 62 shots (.871 save percentage).

 

Associated Press

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Published: 5/5/2009 12:14 AM

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Coming off a win over the Blackhawks in the series opener, coach Alain Vigneault thought his Vancouver Canucks were sitting pretty midway through the second period of Game 2.

"With 30 minutes left we were up 2-0 and had a pretty good handle on the game," Vigneault said.

Then came an icing call and everything changed.

"They got a faceoff in our zone they were able to capitalize on and from there they sort of took their game to a quicker tempo that we seemed to have a tough time handling," Vigneault said.

It led to an offensive explosion by the Hawks - 3 goals in less than six minutes - and the stunned Canucks couldn't recover, eventually dropping a 6-3 decision to knot the series at 1-1.

"You've got to give them credit, they're a real strong team," Vigneault said. "We knew that coming in."

The Canucks know a lot more about the Hawks heading into tonight's game at the United Center.

They know ...

• They'll have to stop the Hawks without reliable defenseman Sami Salo.

"He's a big part of our defensive core," said goalie Roberto Luongo, who surprisingly let in 5 goals Saturday. "Injuries are part of the game but that's why we have eight D-men on the roster.

"We can all play better, myself included. But I'm not going to take on the whole responsibility of what happened in the last game. It's a team thing, and I think as a group we'll get better."

They know ...

• They'll have to find a way to contain the speed of the Hawks.

"Even if it's the best team in the league, the fastest team in the league, if you're smart with the puck and make good plays through the neutral zone, that's how you limit the other team's speed," said left wing Alex Burrows.

And they know ...

• If they don't play better in 5-on-5 situations, things could get ugly.

"We need to adjust a little bit, play a little better 5 on 5 - that's an area we're going to focus on," Vigneault said. Though they're taking some heat back home for barely surviving a Hawks rally in the series opener and then watching as the Hawks rallied for a victory in Game 2, the Canucks head into tonight's game still brimming with confidence.

"We're a good hockey club; we've been on a roll," center Ryan Kessler said. "We just had a little bump in the road. We're just going to get to get back on the bandwagon and keep chugging along.

"We'll be fine."