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Chicago Blackhawks take control, beat Vancouver Canucks 4-2
The Blackhawks did something in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Vancouver Canucks that they hadn't been able to do all series.
They scored first.
And then they did something even more important: They kept scoring.
After yielding the opening goal to the Canucks in the first four games of the series and eight consecutive contests dating to the regular season, the Hawks jumped ahead in Game 5 on Saturday night at General Motors Place and then went on to record a 4-2 victory to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Despite later giving up that lead, the Hawks put together a rally for the second consecutive game and can close out the series and advance to the conference finals with a win in Game 6 on Monday night at the United Center.
Dave Bolland scored the game-winning goal with 5 minutes 5 seconds remaining in the third period and Dustin Byfuglien had two goals to lift the Hawks. Brian Campbell added two assists and Nikolai Khabibulin outdueled fellow goaltender Robert Luongo to record the victory.
"This one was huge," Bolland said. "They're a good team in their home rink with their fans. We just kept it simple."
Byfuglien snapped the Hawks' hex of falling behind first when he fired in a rebound of a Campbell shot at the 15:27 mark of the first period. After Luongo made the initial save with his right pad, Byfuglien pounced and knocked in his second goal of the postseason.
"We got off to the start we kind of wanted," Byfuglien said. "We weathered the storm and got it back and we found a way to tie it back up. Our power play came through big time."
The lead was short-lived as Ryan Kesler evened the score at 1-1 at 17:54. With the Hawks' Andrew Ladd in the penalty box for roughing, the Canucks cashed in on the power play. Kesler tipped in a shot from Kyle Wellwood that squirted through the pads of Khabibulin.
Mats Sundin's goal at 11:16 of the second gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead. The veteran center rifled a shot from the left circle that beat Khabibulin on the stick side.
Late in the second a scrum near the Canucks' goal that featured some nastiness between the Hawks' Kris Versteeg and Matt Walker against Vancouver's Shane O'Brien and Kevin Bieksa resulted in a Hawks power play and they cashed in with Byfuglien's second of the night. The big winger ripped a snap shot from between the circles by Luongo to send the game into the third knotted at 2-2.
"I thought we did some good things all night long," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had good pace in our game and then a very timely power-play goal at the end. It's not an easy building to come in and win. Now we have some momentum and excitement leaving here."
Bolland's game-winner came after he received a terrific pass from Patrick Kane and lifted a shot into an open net. With the Hawks on a power play following a high-sticking call against Bieksa, Kane sent a saucer pass across the ice to Bolland, who corralled it and didn't miss from the bottom of the left circle.
"Kaner is a tremendous passer," Bolland said. "He's going to get you the puck. He knows what to do out there and if he sees an open guy he'll give it to you."
Martin Havlat sealed the victory with an empty-net goal with 1:02 remaining with his fifth goal of the postseason.
Khabibulin made 20 saves to pick up the win while Luongo stopped 26 Hawks shots.