Blackhawks 4 Canucks 2
VANCOUVER — Given the chance, Dave Bolland wasn’t going to make a mistake.
Bolland scored a power-play goal with just over five minutes left in the third period as the Chicago Blackhawks used a 4-2 victory Saturday night to push the Vancouver Canucks to the brink of elimination in their Western Conference semifinal.
The Blackhawks lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can send Vancouver home for the summer with a victory in Chicago on Monday night.
Bolland’s goal snapped a 2-2 tie at 14:55 of the third after Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa was called for high-sticking Patrick Sharp.
Patrick Kane sent a perfect pass to Bolland who fired a high shot over a sprawled Roberto Luongo.
“I didn’t want to mishandled it,” said Bolland, who has four goals in the playoffs. “Roberto Luongo is a good goalie. Sometimes he can throw that stick back and save it.
“I was just taking it slowly and not getting over confidence or over stickhandling the puck.”
Finishing off the series in Chicago won’t be easy, Bolland added.
“We have to be ready for that game.” he said. “We know they are going to come out hard and not give up. We can’t take them lightly.”
Vancouver defenceman Willie Mitchell said the Canucks are down, but far from out.
“This is far from done,” said Mitchell. “We have a 60-minute game there to keep this thing going. It takes four wins. We’ll get there.”
Bruising forward Dustin Byfuglien scored twice for Chicago, once on the power play, while Martin Havlat scored into an empty net. Defenceman Brian Campbell had two assists.
Mats Sundin had a goal and an assist for the Canucks. Ryan Kesler also scored on the power play.
A Game 7, if necessary, will be in Vancouver on Thursday.
Vancouver was looking to rebound after a heartbreaking, 2-1 overtime loss in Game 4 in Chicago. The Hawks tied the game with less than three minutes left in the third period, before scoring early in overtime.
The Blackhawks set the tone for Saturday’s game by using their speed to push the puck into the Vancouver zone and their size to force turnovers.
The Canucks stood their ground and didn’t wither under some early pressure. The Vancouver defence kept the front of the net clear, allowing Luongo a chance to see most of the shots. Canuck forwards also got in the shooting lanes, disrupting shots.
It was a bruising game, with each thunderous hit bringing a roar from the sellout, towel-waving crowd of 18,630. On one shift late in the second period Vancouver’s Rick Rypien was a one-man wrecking crew, knocking over every Blackhawk in sight.
In the third period the Adam Burish returned the favour by burying the Canucks’ Alex Burrows.
Byfuglien has been a thorn in the Canucks side all series. The big Minneapolis native showed he has hands to go with his six-foot-three, 247-pound size.
He opened the scoring at 15:27 of the first period. Campbell fired a shot from the blue-line that Luongo stopped, but Byfuglien put the rebound into a gapping net
It was the first time in this series, and only the second time during the playoffs, Vancouver gave up the first goal.
Byfuglien’s second goal at 18:22 of the second period on the power play tied the game 2-2. He took a pass from Campbell in the slot and fired a shot through traffic that beat Luongo.