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Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo (R) blocks a shot from teammate Chris Higgins during a practice session in Vancouver, British Columbia, April 14, 2011. The Canucks will play the Chicago Blackhawks in game two of their NHL Western Conference quarter final April 15.


To borrow from the NHL marketing campaign, history will be made if the Vancouver Canucks can build on their 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarter-final.

And if so, history will also be forgotten.

"If you learn from the past, then the past won't necessarily dictate the future," Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault said going into Friday's Game 2.

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Twice before, the Canucks have defeated the hated Hawks in Game 1 of a playoff series, and twice before, Vancouver has lost Game 2 in crushing fashion.

Last year, the Canucks led 2-1 in the third period until Patrick Sharp tied the game with a short-handed goal. It allowed Kris Versteeg to win it with 90 seconds on the clock.

Two years ago, the Canucks held a 2-0 lead on home ice only to watch it evaporate in the second period thanks to two goals from Sharp and a short-handed tally from Dave Bolland.

The first lesson for the Canucks is that when a lead is held deep into Game 2, it has to stand up. And the second lesson is that a 1-0 series lead means little, but a 2-0 series lead is significant.

"Both of those games, we had the game early on," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "And in both of those games, they came back and got the momentum in the series. We never really seemed to take it back, so it's a huge game for us tomorrow."

The playoff creed is that a series doesn't begin until one of two things happens: The road team wins a game, or Game 7 arrives.

So, keeping it in perspective, all the Canucks did in Game 1 was hold serve, and they have to do it again in Game 2.

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"We really haven't accomplished anything," goaltender Roberto Luongo said. "We know that tomorrow is going to be a tougher night for us."

Important as the win was, it doesn't come with a huge reward. Not when the opponent is the Blackhawks. Too much history, too many bad memories.

Vigneault has hammered home the message that Chicago will be fiercer in Game 2. He noted that the Hawks had played five "stressful and intense" games at the end of the regular season, and that they were likely still reeling from that loss to the Detroit Red Wings on the final day of the campaign, a defeat that should have ended their season.

But if the Hawks have proved anything in the last two postseasons, it's that they are better when backed against a wall, and that they rise up when adversity strikes. Chicago has lost Game 1 in five of its last six series, including this one against Vancouver, and it went on to win four of them.

Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said his team is tougher when it is challenged and plays with "anger," while defenceman Brian Campbell said the Hawks were comfortable "counterpunchers" when hit in the mouth. Campbell said that when a team comes back once, it makes it easier to do it time and again.

"I don't think we get too uptight," Campbell said when asked why the Hawks handle adversity so well. "It's a long series and we get through this stuff. … You've got to adapt to each game, change the way you play, and fix some things that you did wrong."

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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

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