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Luongo out, Schneider in Canucks net in Game 6 against Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks winger Michael Frolik shoots puck past Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider penalty shot third period tie game 3-3 game

Chicago Blackhawks winger Michael Frolik shoots the puck past Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider on a penalty shot in the third period to tie the game at the 3-3 in game six of the first round. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told reporters during a morning press conference Sunday he believed his top players could respond to the pressure of a Game 6 after the Blackhawks upped the emotional ante in Games 4 and 5.

Apparently Vigneault’s faith didn’t extend to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

Vancouver backup net minder Corey Schneider will start in goal for the Canucks in Game 6 of their first-round series with the Hawks and led the team onto the ice during warm ups.

Some reports indicated the change may be due to a back-injury Luongo suffered while making a save at the end of the first period in Game 4.

But the official word shortly before the game was that it was a coach’s decision -- a decidedly different tune than what Vigneault was singing before the game.

“Roberto is our goaltender, it’s that simple,” Vigneault said Sunday before the game. “We’ve got a lot of faith in Roberto and we’re very confident tonight’s going to be a good game for the whole group; the forwards, the [defensemen] and the goaltender.”

Luongo was pulled in both Game 4 and Game 5 as the Hawks won both games to pull within 3-2 in the series. He has given up 10 goals on the last 40 shots he’s faced and has watched much of the warm ups from in front of the Vancouver bench.

Schneider, who won the 2008 NCAA national championship with Boston College, allowed two goals on 21 shots in 45 minutes in relieve of Luongo in Games 4 and 5.

Before the game, Vigneault had talked about his belief that his players could respond to the increased emotion the Hawks have brought in the last two games.

“The simple answer and the truthful answer is, ‘Yes, I think they can,’ ” Vigneault said. “But until we go out and prove it, there will always be those questions.

“I can defend my players all I want right now, at the end of the day they’ve got to go on the ice and prove it.”

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