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Blackhawks cut Canucks’ series lead to 3-2, hatred rages on

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM



VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It was utter domination — again. And believe it or not, the Blackhawks’ performance in Game 5 on Thursday night at Rogers Arena might have been better than what transpired two days earlier in Chicago.

The Hawks laid waste to the Vancouver Canucks for the second game in a row. Their stars shined, and goalie Roberto Luongo was sent with his head down to the bench again as the Hawks posted a convincing 5-0 victory.

The Canucks still lead the series 3-2, but they are learning in a very hard way that eliminating the reigning Stanley Cup champions is not any easy thing to do.

“We’re focused, and we believe,” defenseman Duncan Keith said. “I don’t think we played our best in the first three games, and we felt we were still in every game. Give them credit, they did what they had to do the first three games. But we’ve played the way we can the last two games.”

Keith played like a Norris Trophy winner for the second game in a row, scoring twice and adding two assists. It was the first four-point game of his career. Marian Hossa had two goals and an assist, Patrick Kane tipped in a Keith blast and Patrick Sharp added two assists.

Luongo lasted only 21:15, allowing four goals on 12 shots. He’s yielded 10 goals on 40 shots in the last two games. Goalie Corey Crawford made 36 saves for his first career playoff shutout for the Hawks, who led 3-0 after the first period.

There already were questions about Luongo’s and the Canucks’ mind-sets after they were routed in Game 4. But after they failed to respond in Game 5 like they said they would, the heat will be turned up.

Are they in Luongo’s head?

“I don’t see in his head, so I don’t know,” Hossa said.

“They have momentum on their side right now,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.

Despite both teams’ stances that they are “different” teams, there is a festering hatred underneath all the pleasantries. The roster overhauls of both teams, especially on the Hawks end, did little to negate the contempt.

The Canucks came after the Hawks as if they had bull’s-eyes on their backs in the first three games and took all three. The Hawks responded by blowing them out in back-to-back games.

“For us against this team, [the rivalry] gets personal because it’s between certain guys,” Hawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “We don’t want to make it easy on this team. “

New characters such as Hawks 6-8 giant John Scott and Canucks troublemaker Raffi Torres, who knocked defenseman Brent Seabrook out of the last two games with a shoulder-to-head hit in Game 3, have maintained that intensity and malice.

There may be more brewing.

The Canucks followed up their Game 4 third-period meltdown with another emotional response Thursday as skirmishes broke out at the end of the second period. The highlight was Troy Brouwer’s bout with Kevin Bieksa, who had scraped with Viktor Stalberg two nights earlier.

Earlier in the second period, defenseman Dan Hamhuis took a crack at Sedin twins pest Dave Bolland, hitting the recently concussed center in the head.

“We’re not going to let them off easy and they’re going to do the same thing to us,” Toews said. “If we score a bunch of goals on them, they’re not going to be happy about it and you’re going to see some stuff happen at the end of the game. It just shows both teams really want to beat each other.”



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