CHICAGO – Goalie Roberto Luongo knows he’s got to make the big saves, but says he needs help if the Canucks are to succeed.
“We’ve got to step up as a team,” the Canucks captain said after practice Monday at the United Center. “I’m not going to take on the whole responsibility of what happened last game. It’s a team thing and as a group we could all play better.”
The Canucks look to bounce back from Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Blackhawks which evened the Western Conference semifinal series shifts at one game apiece going into Game 3 Tuesday. One key will be slowing down the speedy Hawks, who swarmed around Luongo en route to scoring five straight in a span of 15 minutes.
“We’ve got to be sure we’re tight on defence and I’ve got to make the big saves,” said Luongo. “We’re going to make some adjustments and make sure we don’t give them as many scoring chances”.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault says defence will be a top priority.
“(Chicago) did a great job last game of getting to our net,” said Vigneault. “I do think that’s an area we can improve on. Roberto can usually stop what he can see, but they’re doing a great job right now of putting a lot of pressure in front of his net.”
The Canucks took advantage of early Blackhawk penalties last Saturday to score a pair of power-play goals. But midway through the second period, the game’s tone suddenly changed.
“They took their game to a quicker tempo, which we seemed to have a tough time handling,” said Vigneault. “We have been able to handle it for some moments. I thought we did the first two periods of the first game and 30 minutes (on Saturday), so we’ve just have to find a way to put in 60 minutes”.
Vancouver will be without defender Sami Salo, still hobbled with a lower body injury. Right winger Pavol Demitra is also questionable for Tuesday.
The Blackhawks seized home ice advantage with their road win and hope to feed off their raucous home crowd with three of the next four games at the United Center.
“We expect it’s going to be even crazier than the first round (against Calgary),” said Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. “We know it’s going to be a long series, it’s only been two games. We’re only worried about (Tuesday) but if we do the things that there’s a chance we can come out with a win”.
The teams split their four-game regular season series. The Blackhawks and Canucks also each had a win on the opponent’s home ice.
The series returns to GM Place on Saturday for Game 5. If necessary, Game 6 is scheduled for Monday in Chicago.