VANCOUVER – No, say the Vancouver Canucks, the Chicago Blackhawks haven’t got into their heads after a pair of blowout wins.
All that’s needed is some composure and hard work.
It’s not like the last two years when Chicago eliminated Vancouver in six-game meltdowns after the Canucks forged leads in their Western Conference semifinals.
“There’s ups and downs in the playoffs and the key is we’ve got to stay composed,”netminder Roberto Luongo after being torched for four goals on 12 shots in a 5-0 loss Thursday night.
“We don’t want to be caught in these situations, but we’ve got to take a deep breath here and relax a little bit.
“I think it’s a good thing we have a couple of days to regroup as a team.
Chicago has twice stared down elimination after Vancouver took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven conference quarter-final which continues Sunday in Chicago.
Luongo, who was in tears when the Hawks closed them out in 2009, said he’s not going to change his game and he feels good about himself.
“I just keep doing what I’ve been doing all year,”said Luongo who had his workload reduced in the regular season so he’d be fresh for the Stanley Cup tournament.
“I’ve been at the top of my game for the last five months. I feel good about what I’ve been doing and just make sure you apply that process in a game.
“You don’t lose something like that in a game or two. I’m going to be focused for the next one.”
The Canucks fell behind six minutes into the game when Marian Hossa got a power-play break-in and blew a shot past Luongo’s glove. Duncan Keith made it 2-0 only 24 seconds later.
“(That) generated momentum and right now they’ve got the momentum on their side,”said Canuck coach Alain Vigneault.
Hossa was handed a gilt-edged scoring chance.
“He’s teeing it up from the ladies tee right there so … ,”Vigneault said in perhaps an unfortunate reference to a golf course this early in the post-season.
The Canucks were sloppy early in the first period, passing the puck like it was a grenade with the pin pulled.
In the second they began pressing for a goal and were vulnerable to odd-man rushes and stretch passes like the one Hossa converted to his second goal of the series.
“Tell me one thing that was going right,”Kevin Bieksa said when asked if he could put his finger on what the Canucks were doing wrong.
“It was a bad start,”said the Canuck defenceman who fought Hawks forward Troy Brouwer at the end of the second period.
“We weren’t ready to battle. They beat us to pucks and they won the front-of-the-net battles.”
While Vigneault pointed out the Blackhawks are still the champions, his club is facing a team that had to play desperation hockey to avoid becoming the third Stanley Cup winner in 40 years to miss the playoffs.
They have outscored Vancouver 12-2 in the last two games with a lineup that is missing nine of the players who hoisted the Cup last season.
There was a lot of post-game talk about momentum among Canuck players.
“It’s the playoffs,”said Henrik Sedin.“It’s momentum back and forth and they have it right now and it’s up to us ot take it back early on in Chicago.”
When the Canucks lost their second-round series 4-2 to Chicago last year they won two of three games in the Windy City.
“We’re up 3-2 going to Chicago, where we have had some success lately in the playoffs,”Sedin said.“We’ve got a good road team, we have shown that before.”
Daniel Sedin said the Canucks, who didn’t ice a healthy top-six defence corps until the final game of the season, have shown they can deal with adversity.
“We’re going to go through more adversity and this is when we show what kind of team we are,”said the NHL’s scoring champion.
“But at the same time we need to get our work boots on. That’s the only way we’re going to turn this thing around.
“We still believe. That’s the last thing we’re going to give up. We believe in each other. We trust each other. That’s one thing that I’m confident about that’s going to turn this thing around.”
NOTES: The Canucks out-hit the Hawks for the fourth game in the series and were credited with a 40-14 edge in bodychecks … Chicago had a 20-9 edge in blocked shots.