VANCOUVER – The immovable object became an uncontrollable force and helped the Chicago Blackhawks roll over the Vancouver Canucks.
Massive forward Dustin Byfuglien scored three goals, two on the power play, as the Hawks manhandled the Canucks 5-2 Wednesday to take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal.
The six-foot-four, 257-pound Byfuglien anchored himself in the crease like a battleship. All of his goals came of rebounds during scrambles. None were pretty, but they blew a big hole in the Canucks confidence and composure.
“It’s my job to get position and make them work around me,” said the Minneapolis native who had not recorded a point in his eight previous playoff games this season.
“They’ve got to worry about me coming and worry about getting hit. It’s part of the game.”
Linemate Jonathan Toews is glad he plays with Byfuglien, not against him.
“From battling against him in practice, you can’t really move him,” said Toews, who had three assists. “He’s one of those guys, when there is a puck race or battle, their players know he is there and give him a little more respect.”
Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo spent a lot of up close and personal time with Byfuglien.
“He had a good game tonight but he?s just another guy in front of the net,” Luongo shrugged.
?Once the shot is taken you?ve got to take away his stick and make sure he doesn?t get any whacks at it. That?s how he scores.?
Byfuglien’s third goal drew the ire of the Canucks when he scored after driving Luongo into the net. Vancouver argued there should have been goaltender interference, but the goal was allowed.
Marian Hossa, with a goal and an assist, and Kris Versteeg also scored for Chicago. Patrick Kane added two assists.
Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen scored for the Canucks.
Game 4 of the best-of-seven series will be played Friday in Vancouver. The series returns to Chicago for Game 5 Sunday.
After losing the opening game 5-1 in Chicago, the Blackhawks have regained the home-ice advantage.
The Canucks controlled much of the game but found themselves playing catchup after the Blackhawks climbed into a 2-0, first-period lead.
Canuck twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin were kept from scoring for a second consecutive game.
Daniel Sedin was frustrated over the chances the Canucks missed.
“We had a ton of chances in the first,” he said. “They get the lead and it’s a tough team to play.
“We’ve just got to score on the chances we have. It’s unacceptable to have those kind of chances and not put them in.”
Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi kept the Hawks in the game early, making a couple of big stops on Burrows and Hansen. He ended the night with 31 saves.
As the game progressed the Canucks’ frustration showed.
Burrows took an needless unsportsmanlike conduct penalty which resulted in Byfuglien’s second goal. He celebrated by taunting the Vancouver crowd behind the net.
Many of the Canucks became more focused on trying to hit the Hawks rather than controlling the puck. There was plenty of yapping and shoving after the whistle.
“Our game plan is to stay out of that stuff,” said centre Kyle Wellwood. “We played a good first period but we didn’t get any breaks and I think the frustration just got the guys.
“We’re going to have change that if we’re going to win the series.”
For the second time this playoffs the Canucks find themselves trailing 2-1 in a series. In the opening round they fell behind the Los Angeles Kings but battled back to win the next three games.
“We have to bounce back,” said Daniel Sedin. “We can lose, but we can’t lose gripping our sticks too tight or getting frustrated.
Toews expects the Canucks to be hungry on Friday.
A Canuck you wouldn’t expect got involved in an altercation with Chicago’s Dave Bolland near the end of the first period.
Daniel Sedin, more noted as a scorer than scrapper, took exception when Bolland got his stick up in between Sedin’s legs before a faceoff. A furious Sedin began grappling with Bolland. Both players received minors.
Centre Ryan Johnson returned to the Canucks lineup after missing four weeks with a broken foot. Johnson is one of the Canucks best shot blockers and penalty killers.
Notes: The Canucks are 9-9 in playoff series where they won the first game. …Mikael Samuelsson’s seven goals in the first round tied Pavel Bure’s franchise record for goals in a series set in the 1995 Western Conference quarter-final against St. Louis. …Michael Grabner, Tanner Glass, Darcy Hordichuk and Aaron Rome were among the Canuck scratches. …Former Canuck Mattias Ohlund, now a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was in attendance.