By Allan Dowd
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Chicago Blackhawks thrashed the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday to set up a Western Conference finals showdown against the San Jose Sharks with a 4-2 victory in the best-of-seven series.
The Blackhawks took control of the game with three goals in the second period, including a short-handed effort by Dave Bolland past Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo in the final minute of the session.
Troy Brouwer had opened the scoring for the Blackhawks, chipping a shot over Luongo's shoulder early in the second, before Kris Versteeg capitalized on a turnover to make it 2-0 less than 40 seconds later.
Vancouver finally beat Chicago netminder Antti Niemi in the third period when Shane O'Brien beat him with a shot through traffic before the Blackhawks put the game out of reach with goals from Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien.
Chicago, who lost last year's Western Conference final to Detroit, said the Canucks series should prove beneficial against a San Jose team they beat twice in four games during their regular season encounters.
"They're a similar team to Vancouver. They've got two really powerful lines and we're going to have to limit their chances," Versteeg told reporters.
Chicago also hope to repeat the strong showing they showed on the road against both Vancouver and Nashville, who they defeated in the first round of the playoffs.
Vancouver out-shot Chicago in the scoreless first period, but costly turnovers led to two Blackhawk scores in the second period. Luongo was at a loss to explain the sloppy play after their impressive win in Chicago on Sunday.
"I guess we assumed it would happen again at home tonight," Luongo added.
(Reporting Allan Dowd; Editing by John O'Brien)