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Monday April 25, 2011 3:25 am

Chicago Blackhawks force improbable Game 7 versus Vancouver Canucks




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL, Playoffs,

Roberto LuongoVancouver Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault attempted some subterfuge on Sunday, telling media that Roberto Luongo was still his number one goaltender going into Game 6 against the Chicago Blackhawks, despite two dismal games in a row, but then started backup goalie Cory Schneider instead. Schneider played admirably in the net, at one point even being the best penalty killer during a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:42, but was remarkably dismal when he tried to play the puck outside of his crease, which led to two Hawks goals.

In the third period, Chicago’s Michael Frolik scored on a penalty shot and Schneider injured himself on the play, prompting Luongo’s entry into the game. Tied at three at this point, it was Luongo’s chance to be a hero after so much failure in recent NHL postseasons. His team played an unorganized, frantic game in front of him, but Luongo held his own. He was helped by the fact that Vancouver outshot Chicago 10-3 in the period.

Chicago missed a huge opportunity. They should have peppered Luongo with any shot from any angle they could muster. Not only was he coming in to the game cold, his confidence also has to be at an all-time low. Yet both Luongo and Chicago’s Corey Crawford played outstandingly through the period and overtime as well, until, as always is the case, a mistake cost one team the game. Luongo appeared to slip and fell forward on a shot from the point. The rebound bounced out to rookie Ben Smith, who put a shot above Luongo.

Smith’s goal forced an improbable do-or-die Game 7 back in Vancouver on Tuesday night. After the Canucks went up 3-0 in the series, all seemed lost for the defending Stanley Cup champions, but after Games 4 and 5, Vancouver papers were already running stories about the biggest postseason collapses in NHL history and wondering if the 2011 Canucks were bound to join that class. Whether the decision to start Schneider was the correct move or not is irrelevant now. Tuesday belongs to Luongo, and so do the faith, hope and jeers of the city he represents.

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