A year after suffering through the worst playoff performance of his career at the United Center in Chicago, Roberto Luongo turned in a stellar effort in Game 1 of the semifinals rematch between the Blackhawks and Canucks. Luey made 36 saves, and didn’t allow a goal until Vancouver was already up by 5.
Chicago came out strong in the first, but despite outshooting the Canucks 17-13 in the first, they went to the locker room down 2-0, thanks to goals from Christian Ehrhoff and Mason Raymond. Raymond’s goal with just 11 seconds left in the first was a real turning point in the game as it completely stripped the Blackhawks of the momentum they should have had after a solid first. >
It didn’t help that Henrik Sedin scored his 2nd goal of the playoffs just 32 seconds into the 2nd, as the Hawks came out a bit flat and got pinned in their own end by the potent first line of the Canucks. Kyle Wellwood stuffed in a powerplay goal and Michael Grabner took advantage of a bad defensive pinch by Chicago to finish off a 2-on-1 later in the period to give Vancouver a 5-0 lead at the end of the 2nd period.
Chicago got things going again in the 3rd, with Pat Kane finally getting the home team on the board, but Luongo closed the door the rest of the way, despite the fact that Chicago outshot Vancouver 12-3 in the final period. Part of the Blackhawks’ struggles came from the fact that they were largely ineffective with the man advantage. They went just 1 for 6 on the night against a Canucks team that allowed the most powerplay goals against in their first series against Los Angeles. Improving play on the powerplay will be a crucial point for the Blackhawks in the rest of this series.