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Blackhawks-Canucks Preview May 2

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Jonathan Toews gave the Chicago Blackhawks something else to worry about besides their early hole against the Vancouver Canucks.

After leading the Blackhawks with 34 goals and finishing third on the club with 69 points during the regular season, Toews had no points, a minus-2 rating, and lost eight of 11 faceoffs in the Blackhawks' series-opening 5-3 defeat to the Canucks on Thursday night.

Toews, who turned 21 on Thursday, wasn't on Chicago's top line when Patrick Kane started the Blackhawks' third-period rally with two goals. David Bolland completed the comeback from a 3-0 deficit, but after the Canucks regained the lead with 1:13 left, Toews was still on the bench when the Blackhawks pulled their goalie.

Toews logged fewer than 14 minutes of ice time, after averaging nearly 19 in the regular season, but he refused to blame his performance on an injury or illness.

"Everyone is playing through something," Toews said Friday. "No one is making any excuses. For me personally there are things I've got to do better."

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville bailed him out.

"Johnny is a proud guy, doesn't want to use any excuses, but he's been kind of under the weather the last couple of days," Quenneville said. "That's why we didn't use him as much (Thursday). But he's recovering and he feels good."

The young Blackhawks are also on the mend. Their comeback was thwarted after they turned over the puck during a 4-on-2 rush and allowed the Canucks to score the go-ahead goal with 1:13 left during a 4-on-1 break.

Despite the costly breakdown, there were good signs for the Blackhawks as they prepared for Saturday night's Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series.

Near the top of the list was getting to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo three times in less than 14 minutes of the third period after he allowed only five goals during Vancouver's first-round sweep of the St. Louis Blues.

"We have to build off what took place in that third period in the positive ways," Quenneville said. "We'd like to have that pace from the start."

The Blackhawks would also like to find a better balance between the offensive push that allowed them to come back, and the risky play that led to the winning goal.

"We're pressing for three goals the whole third period, playing press, press, press offense, and you get the third goal and you're still pressing," said Kane, who was minus-3. "We're a young team and sometimes we learn the hard way. We'll take the positives from the third period and move forward."

The Canucks also put a positive spin on Game 1. They survived the blown lead and earned their fifth straight win in the playoffs.

"It wasn't like they just came and bombarded us and we were holding on," said fourth-line center Ryan Johnson, who scored an empty-net goal with 16 seconds left of Game 1. "It was a couple of stupid plays and a stupid penalty. I've been on teams in the past where it gets to 3-1, 3-2 and it's a yard sale on the ice. We're a composed group.

"There was never a siren sounding and everyone hitting the panic button. Even though stuff like that happens, you just have to stay the course and stay to the game plan and often things will work out."

Notes: Canucks coach Alain Vigneault compared Chicago LW Ben Eager's late hit on Rick Rypien to the one that earned Washington's Donald Brashear a six-game suspension, and said the NHL was looking at it. ... Chicago RW Martin Havlat, C Samuel Pahlsson, C David Bolland and D Matt Walker missed practice on Friday but Quenneville said they will play Game 2. ... Chicago G Nikolai Khabibulin hasn't beaten the Canucks since 1998. He is 0-11-1 with a .877 save percentage and 3.30 goals-against average since then.


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