Blackhawks’ Valiant Efforts Fall Short
UPDATED 04/27/11 5:16 a.m.
VANCOUVER (CBS) After a slow start in the playoffs, the Blackhawks certainly made it exciting in the end, but ultimately fell to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7.
In the NHL Western Conference Quaretrfinals, the Blackhawks came back from a 3-0 deficit, and even came back from a 1-0 deficit in Game 7.
But the Blackhawks ran out of magic and lost to the Canucks 2-1 in overtime, and have now been eliminated from the playoffs.
CBS 2’s Ryan Baker talked with goalie Corey Crawford after the game.
“It’s not a good feeling,” Crawford said. “We were so close, and we had a couple opportunities to win it, and as a goaltender too, you always take a bad one when you’re the guy who lets in an overtime winner, but this team shows so much character that to battle back, we were so close to having it go our way, it’s tough to take.”
Crawford said his team had pride in pushing the series to a seventh game in overtime, but still, losing was devastating.
“It shows character, and just shows what kind of team we are. Anytime you lose, it always hurts, and you always have questions, but like I said, this team showed a lot to battle back like that.”
Alex Burrows scored his second goal 5:22 into overtime, Roberto Luongo made 31 saves and the Vancouver avoided a historic playoff collapse by knocking the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks out in the first round on Tuesday night.
Burrows, who took a penalty early in overtime, pounced on a Chris Campoli turnover and fired a slap shot over the right shoulder of rookie Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.
Burrows opened the scoring 2:43 in, but Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the playoffs shorthanded with 1:56 left to force overtime.
After being eliminated from the last two postseasons by the Blackhawks, the Canucks finally returned the favor and will host Nashville in the second round.
Luongo was back in goal after being pulled from Games 4 and 5 and benched for rookie backup Cory Schneider to start Game 6. He made a great sliding save to take a backdoor empty net away from Patrick Sharp after Burrows took a penalty just 24 seconds into overtime.
Crawford was even more outstanding at the other end, making 36 saves to keep Chicago in the game.
Burrows scored his first goal after some great work by Ryan Kesler, who skated around defenseman Duncan Keith before centering to Burrows cutting into the slot. Burrows snapped it into the empty net before Crawford had a chance to get across.
But Crawford made several brilliant stops to keep Chicago alive. He stopped a Burrows penalty shot 21 seconds into the third, and made three more great saves with 5 minutes left. Crawford denied Chris Higgins cutting in alone in tight, sprawling to stop Burrows on the rebound, and then diving from his stomach to glove Ryan Kesler’s sharp angle attempt.
Toews tied it 3 minutes later while killing a penalty.
With Vancouver on a power play with a chance to finally extend their early lead, Toews split the defense off a 2-on-4 rush to set up Marian Hossa for a chance in front. He was stopped, but Toews lifted the rebound over a sprawled Luongo.
The Blackhawks, who were forced to shed several key players from the Cup-winning team to stay under the salary cap, barely got out of the regular season, losing their final game and needing help on the final day just to make the playoffs. They looked like a No. 8 seed at times while losing the first three games, but resembled the defending champions the last four.
Against the Canucks it was hardly a surprise.
The Blackhawks eliminated Vancouver in the second round the last two seasons, lighting up Luongo in the final game both times. They did it again in Games 4 and 5, winning by a combined 12-2 score and chasing Luongo both times.
That led the Canucks to start Schneider in Game 6 Sunday, but he cramped up in the third period, forcing Luongo to come in cold before losing in overtime.
But there was no sign of an early carryover in Game 7. He made a good stop on Michael Frolik after a bad turnover 15 seconds in, and sprawled out with the right pad to rob Toews on a spinning, sweeping shot off a rebound in front of the net midway through the first period.
Luongo made another great stop on a tough deflection 8 minutes into the second, and got a break when the whistle was blown before Troy Brouwer banged the puck from between his pads and into the net.
The Canucks got momentum from outshooting Chicago 2-0 while killing off a power play midway through the period, but couldn’t put the puck past Crawford.
Notes: Vancouver D Sami Salo didn’t play after getting hurt early in Game 6. Keith Ballard, a surprise scratch the last two games, took his spot alongside Andrew Alberts on a third pairing. … Chicago moved Brouwer onto Dave Bolland’s checking line after Bryan Bickell had surgery to repair a sliced tendon Monday. … Fernando Pisani and Markus Kruger were back in the Chicago lineup, while 6-foot-8 John Scott, who played 59 seconds in Game 6, was scratched. … Vancouver had 12 players with prior Game 7 experience. Chicago had five. … Chicago is the seventh team in NHL history to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0.
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