Roberto Luongo makes 36 saves, Canucks rout Blackhawks 5-1 in West semifinal opener

By Rick Gano, AP
Saturday, May 1, 2010

Luongo and Canucks win opener over Blackhawks 5-1

CHICAGO — Roberto Luongo made 36 saves and the Vancouver Canucks showed why they were the Western Conference’s top scoring team this season, routing the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 Saturday night in the second-round series opener.

Luongo, who gave up seven goals in his previous playoff appearance at the United Center a year ago when Chicago beat the Canucks in the clinching Game 6, was sharp throughout. He made 17 saves in the first period.

The Canucks stunned the Blackhawks with two goals in less than a minute — Mason Raymond scored with 10.5 seconds left in the first period and Henrik Sedin made it 3-0 just 32 seconds into the second.

Christian Ehrhoff, Kyle Wellwood and Michael Grabner also scored for the fast-skating Canucks against rookie goalie Antti Niemi, who faced 25 shots and was pulled after two periods with Chicago trailing 5-0. Cristobal Huet came on in relief.

Chicago’s Patrick Kane ended Luongo’s shutout bid by scoring during a 5-on-3 power play early in the third period.

Game 2 is Monday night in Chicago.

After the Blackhawks failed to clear the zone, Niemi stopped Henrik Sedin’s shot, but Daniel Sedin retrieved the puck, went around the net and flipped to his twin brother, who was open for the score early in the second.

Vancouver made it 4-0 with a power-play goal — one upheld by video replay — when Wellwood poked in a shot after Steve Bernier’s attempt hit the post and went under Niemi’s pad. Grabner got his first career playoff goal and put the Canucks up by five later in the period when he took a nice cross-ice pass from Rick Rypien to finish off a break.

With the clock running out in the first, Niemi blocked Ryan Kesler’s shot from the side. The puck ricocheted to the top of the left circle, where Raymond had plenty of time to wind up and rip a shot past the goalie with 10.5 seconds left, giving the Canucks a 2-0 lead.

Ehrhoff had the Canucks’ first goal at 13:51 of the first when his slap shot from the right point eluded Niemi, who was screened by teammate Patrick Sharp.

Moments later, Luongo stopped a breakaway attempt by Kane, one of several fine saves he made in the opening period.

Luongo’s kick save on a shot by defenseman Brian Campbell helped foil an early power play for Chicago, one that came 1½ minutes into the game. He later stopped a wrister by John Madden from the left circle.

NOTES: Canucks C Ryan Johnson, who broke a foot on April 4 and has been skating, was scratched from the lineup. He could be ready for Game 2. … There were a few skirmishes but nothing major between the teams, who have not hidden their dislike for each other the last two seasons.

will not be displayed