Salo's late strike boosts Canucks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Sami Salo scored on a three-on-one rush with 1:13 left, and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-3, last night in the series opener after blowing a three-goal lead in the third period.
After Nikolai Khabibulin made a sliding save on Steve Bernier's one-timer, the trailing Salo was all alone to tap in the rebound.
Patrick Kane scored twice for Chicago, and David Bolland tied it with 5:29 left.
Ryan Johnson scored into an empty net with 15.5 seconds left to wrap up the victory. Pavol Demitra scored on a power play, and Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler added even-strength goals for Vancouver, 16-1-1 at home since the start of February.
Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series is tomorrow night in Vancouver.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo made 28 saves. He had an NHL-best 1.15 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in a first-round sweep of St. Louis.
After Chicago rallied twice from three-goal deficits in its six-game victory over Calgary, Kane got the Blackhawks' rally started 1:01 into the third, pouncing on a loose puck in the slot and roofing a quick shot over Luongo's shoulder. Kane's second was on a power-play rebound, and Bolland tied it on another rebound.
Khabibulin made 22 saves, including three great ones to keep it close early in the third period, but still hasn't beaten the Canucks since Jan. 26, 1998, with Phoenix.
Kyle Wellwood added two assists and drew 10 minutes in penalties for the Canucks, but didn't get credit for his best play, a long pass to start the late three-on-one rush that led to the winning goal.
Nine days after sweeping St. Louis, the Canucks' power play looked rusty early, failing to record a shot after Chicago forward Andrew Ladd got a 4-minute high-sticking penalty for cutting Wellwood. But on the next shift, Wellwood walked around Duncan Keith to draw a hooking penalty, and Demitra opened the scoring after a nice passing play started by Wellwood.
Wellwood faked a shot and fed low to Mats Sundin, who one-touched it through the crease to Demitra. Demitra settled the puck before lifting it over Khabibulin's glove with 4:38 left in the first.
Henrik Sedin doubled the lead 5 minutes into the second, going to the top of the crease to bang in twin brother Daniel's pass from below the goal line.