Dustin the Fugly One tried to get into Roberto Luongo’s head last night; Luongo wouldn’t have any of it. Luongo wasn’t intimidated and stopped 23 of 24 shots that came his way. The Canucks won, and suddenly, they hold a 2-1 series lead against those bigger, badder, younger, faster and more skilled Hawks. (Or at least that’s what everyone was calling them the last couple of days.)
The Canucks won because they competed hard against the Hawks. Like Lui, the rest of the team weren’t intimidated. Run Luongo? Say hi to Ossi Vaananen. Chirp with Luongo? Say hi to Shane O’Brien. Or Willie Mitchell. Or Kevin Bieska. Along the boards, Taylor Pyatt, Steve Bernier, Rick Rypien and Ryan Kesler threw their weight around. To a man, the Canucks matched the Hawks’ physical play, something they didn’t do in Game 2.
The Canucks won because they slowed the game down and controlled the tempo. After numerous breakdowns at GM Place, they placed a renewed emphasis on their defensive coverage and didn’t give the Hawks a lot of room to do their thing. After surrendering 31 and 32 shots in Games 1 and 2, respectively, they surrendered only 24 in Game 3. They also blocked 21 shots.
The Canucks won because they weren’t flashy. They were workmanlike and solid and left out the fancy. After the game, Luongo said it was one of their best games in these playoffs, and in an overall sense, he was right. Despite their 6-1 record, they very rarely played the proverbial “60 minute” game; last night, they did.
So often, professional athletes talk about dealing with adversity. Certainly, after Saturday night’s loss and Canucks fans jumping off the bandwagon, the Canucks talked about how they would make up for their poor showing at home. We’ve heard this all before, but unlike previous years, you get the sense that this group means it. All season long, they’ve pulled through. All season long, they’ve got knocked down, and each time, they’ve got back up again.