Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series tied 2-2

Game 1: Wednesday, October 21st
Game 2: Sunday, November 22nd
Game 3: Saturday, January 23rd
Game 4: Friday, March 5th

Canucks 3

(4-5-0, 8 pts)

Blackhawks 2

(5-3-1, 11 pts)

Coverage: NHL

8:30 PM ET, October 21, 2009

United Center, Chicago, Illinois

1 2 3 T
VAN 0 1 23
CHI 1 1 02

D. Keith (Blackhawks - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

A. Niemi (Blackhawks - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .903

M. Grabner (Canucks - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Canucks-Blackhawks Preview


The Chicago Blackhawks eliminated the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference semifinals last season. Both teams are going to need improved play from their No. 1 goaltenders to have any chance of advancing that far again.

Still seeking their first road win of the season, the Canucks look for a third straight strong performance from Roberto Luongo on Wednesday night when they visit the Blackhawks.

In their first postseason appearance in seven years, the Blackhawks ousted Calgary in six games before disposing of the Canucks in six, including a 7-5 victory at the United Center in the series finale May 11.

Nikolai Khabibulin played every minute of every game in that series for Chicago (5-2-1) but he signed with Edmonton in the offseason, leaving Cristobal Huet to assume the starting job.

Huet has had a sluggish start in his new role, going 2-2-1 with a 3.25 goals-against average while backup Antti Niemi is 3-0-0 with a 1.73 GAA and one shutout.

Huet allowed four goals on 25 shots in a 4-3 loss to Dallas on Saturday, drawing the ire of the home fans when he was unable to stop a long-distance slapper from Toby Petersen in the second period. Huet was pulled from his previous home game after giving up three goals in just more than seven minutes.

"I think he'd like to do better and we're looking at him to improve, as well," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's still early in the year."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews defended Huet.

"It's pretty unfair -- there's more pressure on him than there should be," Toews told the team's official Web site. "No one asks for that. We all know that we win as a team and we lose as a team; nobody here points fingers. As a team, we're going to pull through moments like this."

Saturday's loss ended a four-game overall win streak for Chicago, which had also won its first three games at the United Center this season.

Held without a point in his last three games, Blackhawks star forward Patrick Kane will look to get back on track against Vancouver (3-5-0). Kane had six goals and two assists in Chicago's playoff win over the Canucks last season, including a hat trick in Game 6.

Vancouver is 3-2-0 in its last five games following a season-opening three-game losing streak but has yet to record a point in four road contests.

Luongo surrendered 11 goals in 7 1/2 periods in the season's first three games for a 4.56 GAA, but the Canucks captain has rebounded to allow a total of 12 in his past five starts for a 2.54 GAA.

Luongo played well again Sunday, making 27 saves in a 2-1 loss at Edmonton. Vancouver, though, was held to three goals or fewer for the sixth time this season.

"It was definitely not a good end result for us," defenseman Christian Erhoff said. "It may have been our best road performance but unfortunately we couldn't the puck in the net.

"It's not good to lose divisional games like this and let teams get an early start on us."

Offense figures to be an issue for the Canucks as they await the return of high-scoring forward Daniel Sedin, who is expected to miss three more weeks with a broken foot. Daniel and twin brother Henrik tied for the team lead last season with 82 points. Henrik Sedin is off to an impressive start with a team-best 11 points.