Roberto Luongo has enjoyed some tough times and good ones, too, on the home ice of the Chicago Blackhawks.
CHICAGO (AP) — Roberto Luongo has enjoyed some tough times and good ones, too, on the home ice of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Two years ago he was nearly in tears after his Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the postseason as Chicago scored seven goals in the second-round clincher.
Now Luongo has helped the Canucks move to within one win of sweeping the defending Stanley Cup champions out of the playoffs in the first round.
Luongo, who had 30 saves Sunday night as the Canucks pulled out a 3-2 victory for a 3-0 series lead, predicts that Game 4 on Tuesday night at the United Center will be the most difficult game yet.
"Stranger things have happened. We’ve got one more to go. We know it’s going to be a tough one" he said.
"These guys are the Stanley Cup champions. They’re definitely not going to quit. Obviously its going to be even harder come Tuesday night and we’ve got to be ready."
Mikael Samuelsson scored the go-ahead goal in the third period in another rough-and-tumble meeting between two teams that know each other well and don’t especially like one another.
A hit by Vancouver’s Raffi Torres on Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook, was a major part of the postgame conversation. Especially since Torres just came off a four-game suspension for a hit to the head of Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was adamant that it should have been a five-minute major penalty against Torres, who knocked Seabrook to the ice behind the net.
"Brutal. Major. Absolutely," Quenneville said. "He missed it. We could have scored four goals on that play. Is it a suspension? I don’t have to worry about that. The guy didn’t even get through his first game back off one. It’s not my call."
Seabrook left the game briefly to be tested for a concussion and was able to return.
The Blackhawks did score after the penalty. Patrick Sharp took a pass from Jonathan Toews and scored on the Blackhawks’ fifth power play to tie it at 2.
"His reputation speaks for itself," Toews said of Torres. "He’s not just going in to make a play. He’s trying to hurt one of our players. To us, that’s pretty obvious."
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault saw it another way: "I didn’t think it’s a penalty," he said.
The Blackhawks had seven power plays Sunday night, including four in the first period. They had a 1-0 lead in the first on a goal from Duncan Keith, but couldn’t get control of the game.
When Chicago had a chance to extend that lead with a 5-on-3 power play, Luongo came up with some stellar saves, snuffing Chicago stars Toews and Patrick Kane on back-to-back attempts within seconds of one another.
"A couple of saves there. Just a little bit of luck and it gives me a chance," said Luongo, who had 15 saves in the first period.
"It’s my job, obviously, to make the save at key times. Usually you get an adrenaline boost off that and obviously we were able to turn the tables and get two goals in the second. I was into the game early and into the crowd."
Christian Ehrhoff and Daniel Sedin also scored for the Canucks, who’d been knocked out of the playoffs the last two years in the second round by Chicago.
"I think Roberto did his job, a great job in the first period when we got in penalty trouble," Vigneualt said. "Especially on that 5-on-3, he kept us in. He gave us a chance to hang around and find a way to win."
Kane said that was the turning point, even though the Blackhawks were still tied after two periods.
"When you don’t score on 5-on-3s, you lose the game," he said. "I had my chances tonight. I should have buried a couple."
Samuelsson, who missed Game 2 with an illness, scored on a second rebound at 6:48 of the third after a first attempt by Henrik Sedin went off goalie Corey Crawford.
"The rebound came out to Hank. He fanned on it a little bit, I think, but Crawford still had to make a save and he was a little bit out of position," Samuelsson said.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)