The Vancouver Canucks were so close to putting another defensive gem on the board Thursday night in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.
While the end result was a 2-1 overtime loss that evened the series 2-2, the Canucks at least headed back home with the satisfaction of knowing they are capable of frustrating the Blackhawks defensively.
"We can't go chance against chance against this team," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "I just think they're too skilled, and they have too much of a great transition game. At the same time, they're not putting tons of pressure on us either, sending one guy."
The Hawks scored only 3 goals in Games 3 and 4 at home yet managed the split. Vigneault argued that his team is not a defensive-minded unit that would prefer to sit back and protect leads.
The Canucks figure to be a little more offensive when they return home for Game 5 tonight.
"We're not that defensive oriented," Vigneault said. "We're trying to play high percentage, and wait for the other team to make mistakes and then pounce on them. They didn't make a lot of mistakes, and when they did we weren't able to execute and make them pay.
"We had two clear 2-on-1s where we didn't even get a chance on net. You've got to put those away. We had the goaltender out of position once and shot it right in his glove. We weren't able to get the goal that really hurt them."
One for the road: It's a best-of-three series now with the Hawks knowing they need to win at least once more at GM Place if they hope to advance.
"We're confident knowing we've won in that building before," Jonathan Toews said.
The Hawks took Game 3 in Vancouver 6-3 and also had one regular season victory there.
"It's a good feeling knowing we're going back there all tied up," Duncan Keith said. "We're pretty excited."
Game 6 will be back at the United Center on Monday night.
"It would have been tough going back there down 3-1," Dave Bolland said. "We have a lot of confidence now going back to their place."
Upon further review: Lost in the hoopla of the late goals by Marty Havlat and Andrew Ladd in Game 4 was the work of Nikolai Khabibulin down the stretch, and especially in overtime when he stoned Dave Burrows moments before Ladd's winner.
"It's a credit to him," Brian Campbell said. "He stuck in there all night for us. His quickness really showed, especially on that left pad save (on Burrows)."
Tip-ins: The Hawks' regulars didn't practice Friday ahead of their afternoon flight to Vancouver - After missing the last two games with an injury, Canucks defenseman Sami Salo's health will be a key issue before Game 5.