Blackhawks energized in return to Windy City

The young, speedy Blackhawks are back in Chicago buoyed by splitting the first two games of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks.

Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews

VANCOUVER — The young, speedy Blackhawks are back in Chicago buoyed by splitting the first two games of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks.

They’ve had quite a confidence-building road trip.

Chicago clinched their Western Conference quarter-final against the Flames with a 4-1 Game 6 win in Calgary on April 27.

Now they’re getting pucks past Vancouver all-star netminder Roberto Luongo, beating him eight times in the final four periods of a 5-3 loss Thursday and a 6-3 victory on Saturday.

When the conference semifinal resumes with Tuesday’s Game 3 (CBC, 6 p.m.), they want the post-season’s last Canadian team to know Wrigley Field is not the only friendly confines in the Windy City.

The Blackhawks are 3-0 in Stanley Cup play at the rowdy, noisy United Center.

“We’re pretty excited about the way things evolved on this trip but it’s been a special place for us to play all year,” said coach Joel Quenneville.

“The enthusiasm in the building when we get back on Tuesday is going to be great.”

Dave Bolland, the 22-year-old centre from Mimico, Ont., who tied Game 1 with his first playoff goal and added short-handed and empty-net goals on Saturday, said the 22,500-plus United Center fanatics will energize the Hawks.

“With our crowd there yelling and screaming, hopefully that helps us out,” he said of the building where Chicago was 24-9-8 in the regular season.

“We want to make sure we go into our barn with confidence and doing what we have to do.”

What they are doing is scoring.

The five goals Luongo surrendered Saturday matched the entire St. Louis total in Vancouver’s first-round sweep of the Blues.

Luongo said he didn’t expect to win every game against Chicago but the Canucks must play like they did in the 4-0 victory in the teams’ last regular-season meeting.

“Once we get to Chicago we know we can play the type of game that we want to play,” Luongo said.

They might have to do it without veteran defenceman Sami Salo who left the ice Saturday after three shifts and opening the scoring with his third playoff goal.

Salo was not on Sunday’s team flight to Chicago and remained in Vancouver to receive more treatment. There was no word on his status for Tuesday.

Willie Mitchell, Salo’s partner on the shutdown defensive pairing against top opposition lines, said before boarding that Salo’s blistering power-play point shots will also be missed.

“But we had that happen in St. Louis, where he was out (for Game 4) and we responded and we’ll do the same thing here.”

The fourth game of the best-of-seven Chicago series is Thursday before the teams return to Vancouver for Game 5 on Saturday.

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