NHL

Canucks try to stay alive, force Game 7 as they host Hawks

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The Sports Network
5/11/2010 12:13:18 PM
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(Sports Network) - The Vancouver Canucks will try to stave off elimination for a second time when they host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals at General Motors Place.

The Canucks picked up a 4-1 road victory in Game 5, marking the third-seeded club's first win since a 5-1 blowout in the series opener. Tonight, Vancouver will try to earn its first home victory of this best-of-seven set and force a decisive Game 7 in Chicago on Thursday.

Vancouver is 2-3 at GM Place in the playoffs after posting the best home record in the Western Conference during the regular season with a 30-8-3 mark.

Chicago, which is trying to reach the conference finals for a second straight spring, is 4-1 on the road in the postseason and had a solid 23-14-4 record as the visiting team prior to the start of the playoffs. The second-seeded Blackhawks last made it to the conference finals in back-to-back years in 1989 and '90.

Kevin Bieksa paced Vancouver's offense with a pair of goals and an assist in Sunday's Game 5 matchup, while Roberto Luongo made 29 saves to help the Canucks record the 4-1 decision at United Center.

Christian Ehrhoff and Alexandre Burrows also lit the lamp for the Canucks.

"We still got a road ahead of us," Bieksa said. "If we play the same way we did tonight will be fine."

The third-seeded Canucks are 0-4 in the second round of the playoffs since last reaching the conference finals in 1994, when they eventually lost to the New York Rangers in a seven-game battle for the Stanley Cup.

However, Vancouver is 3-4 all-time in best-of-seven series when trailing three games to one. The last time the Canucks overcame a 3-1 deficit to win a series was against St. Louis in the opening round of the 2003 playoffs.

The Canucks won Sunday despite losing defenseman Sami Salo at the end of the first period. Salo was hit by a shot near his groin section and was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. He is not expected to play tonight.

Jonathan Toews, coming off a hat trick during a 7-4 victory in Game 4, had the lone goal for Chicago on Sunday, while Antti Niemi turned aside 20-of-23 shots in defeat.

"I'll give them credit because they played the way they had to," Toews said. "We weren't good enough tonight."

With Salo likely out for tonight, the Canucks may turn to Nolan Baumgartner or Aaron Rome to fill in on the blue line. Baumgartner has been a healthy scratch this whole series and hasn't played since Game 4 of the club's opening-round matchup with Los Angeles. Rome has been sidelined with an undisclosed injury and hasn't played since Game 3 against the Kings. If Rome is healthy enough to play tonight, he would likely get the call over Baumgartner.

This marks the fourth time the Canucks and Blackhawks have battled in the postseason. Vancouver's only series victory over Chicago was in the 1982 conference finals, when the Canucks ousted the Blackhawks in five games before getting swept by the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Eager and Bieksa clash (Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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