Canucks-Blackhawks: Vancouver Forced Into Must-Win Situation

Joel LefevreAnalyst IMay 10, 2009

How quickly momentum can change. 

In Game Four on Thursday, the Canucks were less than three minutes away from taking a stranglehold on this series that would have put the Hawks on the brink of elimination. 

But the reality is that is it the Canucks who are now on the brink of elimination, following a 4-2 defeat at GM Place on Saturday. 

For the first time in the series, it was the Hawks who got out of the gates quicker and got the opening goal, when Dustin Byfuglien shovelled a rebound past Luongo. 

The Canucks looked unfazed and evened the score shortly after. Kyle Wellwood fooled the Hawks into thinking he was gonna throw a pass to the point, and instead threw it in front.  The bouncing puck was tipped by Kesler, and found a hole through Khabibulin. 

The momentum was carried into the second, as the Canucks looked to feed off the home crowd.  Alain Vigneault's line-juggling appeared to be working when Mats Sundin took a Henrik Sedin pass and wired a shot past Khabibulin for his second of the playoffs and first of the series. 

There was suddenly life in the building and energy among the players.  Rick Rypien looked possessed, as he hammered every Blackhawk in sight on Saturday. 

However a big skirmish in the Canucks' corner later on appeared to give the Hawks a spark.  From that play—a scrap with Matt Walker and Shane O'Brien—came a Hawks power play.

The refs clearly blew this call, giving O'Brien an extra two minutes despite Walker dropping his gloves first.  The Hawks took advantage of the blown call, when Byfuglien's wrist shot found a hole through Luongo after Kesler failed to clear the puck late in the penalty. 

In the third, the Canucks had a chance to regain the lead, but Kyle Wellwood hit the post on a great rush from Steve Bernier. 

Late in the game, the Canucks took some undisciplined penalties.  Firstm Kevin Bieksa took a high-sticking minor.  Another failed attempt to clear—this time by Ryan Johnson—led to Willie Mitchell breaking his stick and allowing Dave Bolland to score into an open net off an easy play from Patrick Kane. 

Minutes later, Kesler took a holding penalty that put the Canucks down again.  The Canucks would not come close to tying it again, as Martin Havlat scored into an empty net to put the game on ice. 

The Canucks now really have their backs up against the wall, as they must somehow regain momentum and win Monday in hostile environment in Chicago

While the Canucks may be down they appear far from out, "this is far from done," as Mitchell said. "We have a 60-minute game there to keep this thing going. It takes four wins. We'll get there." 

The Canucks were outshot once again 30-21 by the Blackhawks, who will look to wrap it up at home Monday night.  The Canucks must bring their best effort Monday if they want to hope to prolong this series. 

Vancouver has not won a Game Five since 2003 when they erased a 3-1 deficit against St. Louis to win the series. 

This is by far the biggest adversity the Canucks have faced all season, from the loss of Bourdon to the dreadful January to the sad loss for Taylor Pyatt.

This team must bring it on Monday.  They have responded so well all season when faced with a challenge and will need to approach it in the same manner come Monday.