CHICAGO – Despite an impressive opening-game victory in the Western Conference semifinal in Chicago, the Vancouver Canucks know they can’t take their foot off the gas going into Game 2 against the Blackhawks.
“This was important for us to get everyone involved and get some confidence,” said left winger Daniel Sedin. “(And) it was key to have four lines scoring.
“But it’s a new game tomorrow.”
The Canucks claimed a 5-1 triumph on Saturday. Now they contend with a Chicago team that has bounced back after losing opening games in its last four playoff series.
And they’ll have another raucous United Center crowd backing them up when the puck drops Monday night (TSN, 9 p.m. ET).
The Canucks held a light, optional Sunday workout while the Blackhawks stayed off the ice. Both teams have scheduled morning skates on Monday.
As satisfying as Saturday’s victory was, the Canucks still have some issues to address.
Chicago outshot Vancouver 37-28, including 17 shots on goalie Roberto Luongo in a frenetic first period.
“We did win 5-1, but we did give that team – especially (Jonathan) Toews’ and (Patrick) Kane’s line – a lot of scoring opportunities,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “We know we’re going to have to do a better job tomorrow and we will.”
Still, Luongo was solid until earlier in the third period when Kane scored on a power play.
“He’s a clutch goaltender and has a lot of confidence in himself,” said Vigneault. “And he does everything he has to do to put his best game on the ice.”
By that point, the Canucks had already put five shots past starting goalie Antti Niemi.
Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Canuck scoring resulted from his team?s mistakes.
“I think all of the goals were self-inflicted wounds last night,” he said. “We’ve got to be better in those areas, and it was what we did that generated their offence.”
Canucks defender Christian Ehrhoff broke a scoreless tie at 13:51 of the first period and left winger Mason Raymond made it 2-0 with just 11 seconds left before the first break.
Just 32 seconds in to the second period, Henrik Sedin made it 3-0, the first of three goals in the period.
Niemi had 20 saves but left the game after 40 minutes. Cristobal Huet, who was the Blackhawks No. 1 goalie earlier this season before being unseated by Niemi, handled the third period and turned back three shots.
Quenneville said Niemi will be back in net Monday.
Chicago beat the Canucks in six games in last year’s Western Conference semifinals.
“Last year we had a good team and we felt we probably should have won the series in Chicago,” said Daniel Sedin. “We lost last year because we made a few mistakes and we can’t do that this year because it’s going to cost us again.”
The series shifts to Vancouver for games on Wednesday and Friday. If necessary, Game 5 will be Sunday at the United Center, while a Game 6 would be on Tuesday, May 11 at General Motors Place.
Game 7 would be on Thursday, May 13 in Chicago.