The Chicago Blackhawks will try to avoid falling behind three games to none in the Western Conference quarterfinals when the defending Stanley Cup champions host the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks tonight at United Center.
The Blackhawks won it all for the first time since 1961 last spring, but an offseason salary purge contributed to Chicago just making the playoffs as the West's eighth seed. Joel Quenneville's club now finds itself down 2-0 after dropping both games of the best-of-seven series in Vancouver.
Chicago is 4-31 all-time when falling behind two games to none in a series. The last time Chicago came back from an 0-2 deficit to win a playoff series was in the 1995 conference quarterfinals against Toronto.
Meanwhile, the Canucks, winners of the Presidents' Trophy, will try to keep the pressure on tonight as they try to avoid getting knocked out of the playoffs by Chicago for a third straight spring. The Blackhawks beat Vancouver in the Western Conference semifinals in each of the last two postseasons, claiming both series in six games.
Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo posted a shutout in Vancouver's 2-0 triumph in Game 1, but the Blackhawks gave the hosts a tougher test on Friday. Daniel Sedin had two goals and an assist as the Canucks held on for the 4-3 win at Rogers Arena.
The Sedin brothers were held without a point in Game 1, but combined for five points on Friday. Henrik Sedin finished Game 2 with a pair of assists.
"It was good to get the victory in both home games cause that is a championship team over there," said Daniel Sedin. "We've been staying out of the box and that has been key for us."
Luongo, who stopped 32 shots in the first game for his second playoff shutout, made 23 stops.
Ben Smith lit the lamp twice while Viktor Stalberg scored the other goal for the Blackhawks, who trailed by scores of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 in Game 2, but fought back to within one goal each time. However, Chicago never was able to tie the game after Jannik Hansen scored for the Canucks at 7:30 of the opening period.
Chicago rookie goaltender Corey Crawford was touched for four goals on 27 shots in the loss.
"We didn't get the win but we'll move forward and look forward to Sunday," said Smith.
On the injury front for Chicago, forwards Bryan Bickell (right wrist) and Tomas Kopecky (upper body) are questionable for today. Bickell was injured in Game 2, while Kopecky was hurt in the opener on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Canucks forward Mikael Samuelsson sat out Game 2 with the flu and is questionable for today's test.
However, the Canucks could have Raffi Torres back today, as the forward has completed serving a four-game suspension for elbowing Edmonton's Jordan Eberle late in the regular season. Torres is still questionable for tonight after battling recently with a bout of food poisoning.
The Blackhawks, who will host Game 4 on Tuesday, had a strong 24-17-0 record as the home team this season and were 8-3 at United Center during last year's playoffs. The Canucks had an excellent 27-10-4 as the road club this season.
Chicago and Vancouver have met two other times in the postseason in addition to their 2009 and 2010 semifinal bouts, and the Blackhawks own a 3-1 edge all- time against the Canucks in the playoffs.