VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) The Vancouver Canucks are looking forward to Game 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night.
And they insist they’re over their Game 4 collapse in Chicago that left the Western Conference semifinal series tied at 2.
“It’s already behind us,” forward Alex Burrows said.
On Thursday night in Chicago, the Blackhawks’ Martin Havlat tied it with 2:44 left, and Andrew Ladd scored early in overtime.
“We flew home last night and we’re ready to go now,” Burrows said. “It’s a best two out of three, and when we faced adversity before we’ve responded well.”
The Canucks say they also have to look forward on the ice, spending more time pushing into the Chicago end and less backing up into their own zone.
Vancouver has led in all four games, but blown leads three times.
The Canucks sat back and watched the talented young Blackhawks erase three- and two-goal leads while splitting the first two games in Vancouver. They continued to press and build on an early lead to win Game 3, but tried to nurse a one-goal cushion in Game 4, doing so until a late breakdown allowed Havlat to score.
“Losing that late was tough,” Canucks forward Mats Sundin said. “But that’s what the playoffs are about, how you respond after a loss, how your next performance is. Every time you are knocked down you have to bounce back even higher.”
They can’t get much lower on the shot clock. The Canucks managed 15 shots Thursday, a franchise playoff record for futility, as they retreated into the neutral zone to try to shut down Chicago.
“As a team, 15 shots is not good enough,” top-line forward Daniel Sedin said. “It’s a fine line and last game we played too defensive. We’ve got to get better offensively, but at the same time we were 2 1/2 minutes from being up 3-1, so it has worked.”
Don’t expect it to change.
Vancouver knows it can’t go back to trading chances with the speedy Blackhawks, which cost it leads in Games 1 and 2. The Canucks’ ability to slow Chicago, to take away time and space through the neutral zone and limit long passes out of the Blackhawks end, was key to winning Game 3 on the road, and keeping them off the scoreboard for 57 minutes of Game 4.
“We want to extend the lead, keep pushing the pace,” Burrows said. “We can’t sit back. We can’t trade chances. But if we play well defensively, keep pushing the pace and make their D turn, that’s how we’re going to create offense.”
The Canucks held meetings and a sparsely attended optional practice on Friday, while the Blackhawks took the day off to travel back to Vancouver. In a series filled with momentum swings within each game, neither side expected the late turnaround in Game 4 to mean much when they dropped the puck for Game 5.
Chicago rallied from a three-goal third period deficit in Game 1 only to lose with 1:13 left, then rallied from an early two-goal hole to win Game 2. About the only thing that hasn’t happened is the Blackhawks scoring first.
“I’d like to find out what we’re going to be like playing with the lead,” coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday night. “The momentum in this series has been pretty remarkable.”
Notes: Canucks D Kevin Bieksa, who left early in overtime Thursday and was spotted limping after the game, said he will play Saturday, calling it a “lower-body injury, but “nothing serious.” D Sami Salo, who hasn’t played since sustaining an unidentified lower-body injury after scoring early in Game 2, practiced Friday, but coach Alain Vigneault said he’s still day-to-day. Game 6 is in Chicago on Monday night, but Game 7, if necessary, isn’t until Thursday night.