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Discipline issues haunting Canucks squad on verge of playoff elimination

VANCOUVER - On the edge of elimination, the Vancouver Canucks' discipline is unravelling fast.

For the second game in a row, they paraded to the penalty box and the Chicago Blackhawks made them pay, scoring four power-play goals in a 7-4 win Friday.

A fifth goal came seven seconds after defenceman Andrew Alberts served a holding penalty for grabbing Patrick Kane by the helmet and whacking him on the shoulder with his stick.

A subdued coach Alain Vigneault couldn't explain his club's composure meltdown.

"I don't know what the answer is to that," Vigneault said after the Blackhawks took a 3-1 stranglehold in the Western Conference semifinal, which continues Sunday in Chicago.

"I really believe this group is ready for this time, ready for this moment, but obviously our actions right now are proving me wrong."

The Hawks scored three power-play goals in the second period when the Canucks were called for four minors in four minutes 40 seconds of playing time. There were two 5-on-3 man advantages in that span.

Daniel Sedin was called for cross-checking Kris Versteeg. Alex Burrows, who took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that cost a goal in Wednesday's 5-2 loss, was nailed for roughing when he gave Dustin Byfuglien a few shots with his stick as the Hawk lay on the ice after a goalmouth scrum.

Jonathan Toews got his third power-play goal of the game on that power play.

Asked if the Canucks were losing control, Toews diplomatically replied, "They have their own personality, their own character. I guess what you see is what you get."

Byfuglien, who scored two power-play goals in his Game 3 hat trick, was an early target.

"They definitely paid attention to me a little bit more and got me a couple cross checks, a couple penalties and that's the way it goes," Byfuglien said. "Some teams can't hold it together and some teams let that stuff go."

Burrows bristled when asked if the Canucks were losing their composure.

"That's your opinion," said Burrows who was shifted to the top line with the Sedin twins who have been stymied in the series by the trio of Dave Bolland, Andrew Ladd and Versteeg.

"I think we stayed pretty composed on the bench. We took some penalties that maybe we shouldn't have taken, but we stayed composed on the bench and we were right into the game going into the second and even the third."

Luongo appeared to focus more on Byfuglien in front of him at times, once thumping him in the back with the edge of his goal stick paddle.

The Canucks goalie, who allowed six goals on 33 shots, including one by Brent Seabrook 18 seconds into the game, also couldn't explain the Canucks' lack of discipline in a rare second consecutive home-ice loss.

"We talked about it," Luongo said. "We were all on the same page before the game started and . . . just one thing led to another."

Henrik Sedin suggested the Canucks need to be better than their current 64 per cent on the penalty kill through 10 playoff games.

"It's tough when they score almost every power play," he said.

"Some of (the calls) were borderline but that's what you get when you're pushing it. So we've got to bounce back and be stronger."

Ryan Johnson, who spent most of his ice time defending power plays, said his teammates shouldn't be surprised by the referees' calls.

"It's playoff hockey," Johnson said as the Canucks teetered one game from the end of their season.

"We know what's going to be called and you have to be able to bite your lip and suck it up and it's not happening right now.

"If this isn't the last wake-up call I don't know what it's going to take."


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