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Canucks connect, win 3-1 over Blackhawks
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin watches the puck goes into the net on a goal by Vancouver Canucks' Mason Raymond (14) during the first period in Game 3 of the NHL hockey Western Conference semifinal series, Tuesday.

 

Associated Press

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews looks down as the Vancouver Canucks begin to celebrate a 3-1 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday at the United Center.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 5/5/2009 9:46 PM | Updated: 5/5/2009 11:25 PM

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Judging by the words the Blackhawks used to describe their 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, you would have thought it was just another game in January and not Game 3 of a deadlocked playoff series.

Defenseman Duncan Keith said the Hawks were flat. Seriously.

Coach Joel Quenneville saw nothing positive in the loss that gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals.

"I didn't like anything about our game tonight," Quenneville said. "We weren't crisp with the puck, we didn't get it deep and we didn't get it to the net. We seemed to have a little delay in our switch tonight."

The Canucks had something to do with that defensively. They bottled up the Hawks at the blue line after going ahead 3-0 and never allowed the home team's speed to become a factor.

"We can't play chance vs. chance with this team," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.

The Hawks were 1-for-5 on the power play, which was a pretty good indicator of the entire frustrating night.

"I think we were looking for a better play," Quenneville said. "We have more success when he shoot it. I thought we were looking for a better play, not only on the power play, but 5-on-5 that really didn't exist.

"When they're lined up across, I think you've got to chip it in and I think we tried too many plays at their blue line and it slowed us down. We didn't have enough speed on the attack as well."

Whatever momentum the Hawks gained in the series after winning Game 2 is gone and now they pretty much need to win Game 4 on Thursday or else this could end quickly.

"We can't let the other team come in here and take two games," Keith said. "It's our building and we've got to be the ones that come out and set the tone.

"It's frustrating right now, but we've got to let this one go."

It was the third time in three games in the series that the Hawks fell behind by at least 2 goals early.

"You can't come back every game," Keith said.

Turnovers by goalie Nikolai Khabibulin and Keith led to 2 goals and a poor hooking penalty by Patrick Kane resulted in a power-play goal. The Hawks took 3 penalties in the first period, including one by Dustin Byfuglien 2:45 into the game for goaltender interference, with it obvious referees Dave Jackson and Kevin Pollock were instructed to watch Roberto Luongo's crease more closely after the first two games.

There was a surge by the Hawks late in the second period after Brian Campbell's power-play goal made it 3-1, but they couldn't sustain the momentum like in their Game 2 victory.

"I didn't think we skated very well tonight," Campbell said. "We've got to find a way to have a better first period than what we've had in the series so far. It's not acceptable."

It was scoreless late into the first period when Khabibulin fired the puck around the boards from behind the net right to Kevin Bieksa. The puck quickly went to the net and Mason Raymond finished the play for a 1-0 lead that the Canucks never lost.

"Everything was kind of off tonight," Keith said.

That's not supposed to happen in May.