Skip to main content

Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo reaches for the puck as teammate Alex Burrows (R) tries to stop Chicago Blackhawks Jonathan Toews during the third period in Game 6 of their NHL Western Conference quarter-final hockey game in Chicago, April 24, 2011. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Jeff Haynes/Reuters

Killer instinct.

It has been absent with the Vancouver Canucks, who have squandered three chances to eliminate the Chicago Blackhawks, including blowing three separate leads in Game 6 during a 4-3 loss in overtime.

Now we'll see if the Blackhawks have it.

Story continues below advertisement

The Blackhawks, who have won three successive games against the Canucks, haven't played a Game 7 in the playoffs since 1995, when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. Head coach Joel Quenneville has never led a team into a Game 7, and just two regulars - winger Marian Hossa and defenceman Brian Campbell - have participated in a winner-take-all contest.

They will all do so Tuesday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, when the Hawks attempt to become just the fourth team in NHL history to erase a 3-0 disadvantage and win a best-of-seven playoff series. For the last week, the team has been in survival mode, trying to stay alive and achieve small goals, as opposed to being confronted with the big picture.

"We didn't want to look at the big picture," Quenneville said Monday. "It was ugly at the time, and we just wanted to win one hockey game and try to see where the momentum took us. I still think we have the momentum going into [Tuesday's]game, but [with]the excitement that we didn't have going into games 4, 5 and 6. It keeps snowballing here."

The Blackhawks more than proved that they could finish off opponents last year, when they cruised to a Stanley Cup after defeating the Canucks in a six-game Western Conference semi-final.

They wasted an opportunity to beat Vancouver in Game 5 last year, but they proceeded to sweep the San Jose Sharks in the conference final, and took advantage of their first opportunity to win the Stanley Cup, downing the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime of Game 6.

The Hawks are 6-1 over the past two years in games where they could clinch. The only problem with analyzing the team's recent history, however, is that so much of its personnel has turned over since last year. Half the Cup roster is now elsewhere, while the remaining players have scant experience under the pressure-packed stakes of Game 7.

"You get down 3-0, you're not really playing for too much any more," winger Patrick Kane said. "There wasn't really any pressure on us, and sometimes it's nice to play with no pressure. And that's kind of our attitude now. If we play like that, we should be fine."

Story continues below advertisement

Centre Dave Bolland said the last three games felt like Game 7 because the team was facing elimination, while Quenneville added that many of his players have big-game experience, if not seventh-game track records.

Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook all played in the 2010 Olympic gold-medal game between Canada and the United States at the same Vancouver venue. Toews may have been the best Canadian forward that night, whereas Seabrook looked so nervous that he barely played in the third period.

Kane, who is from Buffalo, said his feelings heading into Tuesday are similar to those preceding the Olympic final. The Blackhawks are underdogs and will play before a hostile crowd: the same environment that the U.S. experienced in February of 2010.

"We battled a long way back, and this is the goal we were trying to get to: a Game 7 in Vancouver," Kane said. "I still feel that all the pressure is on them. They were the ones who were up 3-0. They were the first seed in the West. They were predicted to win the Cup this year and go really far. We didn't really have any of that pressure."

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at