Monday, April 25, 2011
Hawks flying high heading into Game 7
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks understand what they are on the verge of accomplishing with one more victory in their dramatic opening-round playoff series with the Vancouver Canucks. Only three teams in NHL history have recovered to win a series after trailing 3-0.
But after beating the Canucks 4-3 in overtime in Game 6 on Sunday at the United Center, they are starting to feel a lot like they did last June.
“If we win, it’s almost compared to winning the Cup I would say,” Niklas Hjalmarsson, who assisted on the winning goal, said. “It would be a huge accomplishment, but we still have one more game. The fourth game is always the toughest one to win.”
Maybe so, but right now the task seems harder for the Canucks than it does for the Hawks. Vancouver admittedly played its best game of the series and still lost.
“You always want your team to compete and play hard, and that’s what we did tonight,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
Over three playoff series with the Hawks, Vigneault has tried everything. In Game 6 he tried another tactic -- benching starting goaltender Roberto Luongo. In a weird twist of fate, Luongo still ended up losing the game after starter Cory Schneider left the contest with an injury. What else can Vigneault try?
“This is huge if we come back to beat them,” Dave Bolland said. “It will be huge. We have the momentum after this big win. It could feel like the finals. We have one more game to go.”
Fate is a word starting to creep into the vocabulary of this series.
“We have to feel like it’s meant to be,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We have a great feeling in this locker room right now and that’s what you get when you win three games in a row. To steal the momentum from that team [after] going down 3-0 and fighting our way back into the series, anything can happen now.”
The Hawks pulled out a game they rarely could in the regular season. Trailing at three different times and gassed in the overtime period, they found a way.
“You’re moving in sand,” Bolland said. “Your brain isn’t really thinking. Your legs are just moving and moving and moving. You’re just trying to get to the open spot and hope it bounces off you.”
Maybe it is fate or maybe the Hawks have found the mojo that’s been missing since last postseason. Either way, a chance at history awaits them in Vancouver.