The first three games of the Vancouver-Chicago series has been no indicator of its outcome. Somehow, the Blackhawks, who managed to squeeze into the playoffs through the cracks of a log-jammed Western conference, have taken back the reins against the President’s trophy recipients and their Vezina finalist Roberto Luongo. In fact, the Blackhawks caused such havoc on Luongo in Games 4 and 5 that Alain Vigneault chose to start backup goalie Cory Schneider tonight instead.
To his credit, Schneider played fairly well, making 17 saves on the charging Hawks, until he hurt himself trying to stop a penalty shot awarded to Michael Frolik. So Schneider was out and Luongo was in.
Continually throughout the game, the Canucks would strike first, but the Blackhawks were quick to answer back. Tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, it was now do or die for the Hawks, who faced elimination if the Canucks were able to put a puck past Corey Crawford. Crawford certainly was busy in the OT period, facing 12 shots on goal by the desperate Canucks. There were several close calls, but it was an unsuspecting player who managed to win the game for the Hawks. 5 minutes to the end of the extra frame, rookie right winger Ben Smith scored the rebound goal on a shot by Niklas Hjalmarsson that bounced off Luongo.
The Blackhawks have now won the last 3 games of the series and are headed to Vancouver on Tuesday for Game 7. If they win it, they will be the 4th team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit to advance on to the next round.
Win or lose, it’s been a remarkable series for the Blackhawks, filled with astonishing highs and intense lows. Now it’s down to one game to determine which team gets to continue their chase for the cup. The Hawks are a completely different team now than they were one week ago and there is no telling what can happen in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
About the Author
Written by Anna Santiago
26-year old sports writer from Calgary, Alberta. A hockey and basketball lover above all.