Canucks blank Blackhawks to take early series lead

Roberto Luongo recorded his second career playoff shutout with a 32-save performance as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 in the series opener at Rogers Arena on Wednesday.

The Canucks opened the scoring at 7:03 when Chris Higgins tipped the game winner past Corey Crawford who was making his first career playoff start and was busy in the first period where the home team outshot its visitors 11-7.

Vancouver doubled its lead to 2-0 at 10:23 of the first when Jannik Hansen, who had a career high 28 points this season, beat Marian Hossa to a loose puck in the Blackhawks zone and broke in alone to go high glove side on Crawford.

Luongo kept the lead at two for Vancouver with the save of the night as he slid across the crease to just barely keep a one-timer out of the net late in the first period.

Chicago continued to apply pressure in the second but “Lou” was up to the task with yet another highlight reel diving save late in the period to preserve the shutout.

The Canucks threw the body around as they out hit Chicago 47-21 which was something that was said to be lacking over the last few postseason runs.

BOX SCORE: HAWKS AT CANUCKS

The Blackhawks were unable to establish any significant physical presence in front of Luongo as Vancouver snapped a three-game playoff losing streak at home to Chicago.

Crawford made 31 saves and did well to bounce back after a shaky first period to keep the Blackhawks within striking distance from then on but Chicago’s forecheck was unable to penetrate Vancouver’s aggressive defence.

NOTES: The Canucks were 41-2-6 when scoring first during the regular season. … Troy Brouwer returned from a shoulder injury for Chicago but Dave Bolland, who was essential in limiting the Sedin’s in the last two postseasons, remained out with a concussion. … Chicago outshot Vancouver 33-32. … Over the past two seasons Vancouver has failed to win a seven game series against the Blackhawks in the playoffs.