Canucks handle Hawks

The Associated PressMay 6, 2009 

— Roberto Luongo made an early lead stand up, and the Vancouver Canucks regained home-ice advantage by beating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 Tuesday night for a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

Burned by the Blackhawks' speed in the first two games, the Canucks were able to offset it with better puck control and an aggressive physical defense, despite the absence of versatile defenseman Sami Salo, who missed the game with an injury.

"One thing we don't want to do against this team is play chance-for-chance," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.

"There is too much skill and speed. ... We're going to keep it high percentage. I think if we do that and play a good puck possession game, we give ourselves a better chance to win."

Game 4 is back at the United Center on Thursday night before the series returns to Vancouver for Game 5 on Saturday night.

After surrendering eight goals in the first two games of the series at Vancouver, Luongo finished with 23 saves Tuesday, including a spectacular stop on Dave Bolland when the Blackhawks had a power play early in the third period.

Mason Raymond scored for the Canucks late in the first to give them the lead for the third straight game, and Steve Bernier's goal during a power play early in the second put Vancouver up by two. Henrik Sedin's fourth goal of the playoffs made it 3-0 in the second.

But Brian Campbell's slapper from the high circle on a power play -- with Chicago's burly Dustin Bfuglien in the crease -- cut the lead to 3-1 as the crowd that had been quiet for most of the night quickly erupted, hoping that another comeback was on its way.

But Luongo didn't let this lead slip. The Blackhawks had rallied from 3-0 and 2-0 deficits in Games 1 and 2 and earned a split, but there was no comeback this time. Luongo also made a nice stop on Jonathan Toews with about 10 minutes left when the Blackhawks captain tried to stuff the puck in from the side.

"When we did make a few mistakes in the third period, Roberto made the saves he had to make," Vigneault said.

Vancouver's first goal came as Ryan Kesler was hit and knocked off his feet by Chicago's Ben Eager. At the last second, he dished the puck to Raymond, who beat Nikolai Khabibulin for his first career playoff goal and a 1-0 lead.

"I just think we came out flat," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said. "They had the jump on us. It's frustrating that way to let them get the first goal. You can't come back every game."

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