Canucks push Blackhawks to brink of elimination

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Vancouver Canucks pushed defending Stanley Cup champions Chicago to the brink of elimination from the NHL playoffs on Sunday with a 3-2 victory in Game Three of their first-round series.

The win handed the Canucks a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven series, and Vancouver will look to complete the clean sweep in Game Four on Tuesday.

Mikael Samuelsson scored the game-winner at 6:48 in the third period, while goaltender Roberto Luongo finished with 30 saves, as the Western Conference top seeds took a 3-0 lead in the series.

"It wasn't a perfect game, it wasn't pretty, but sometimes on the road in the playoffs you need to win the ugly ones," Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa told reporters. "The main thing is we were resilient."

The Blackhawks only scraped through to the playoffs on the final day of the regular season but they are in danger of making an early exit.

After being shut out in the opener on Wednesday, Chicago have suffered consecutive one-goal defeats despite getting off to a promising start on Sunday.

Duncan Keith gave the home team a 1-0 lead in the first period before Vancouver struck back in the second with goals from Christian Ehrhoff and Daniel Sedin, who netted his third score of the post-season.

Chicago's Patrick Sharp capitalized on the power-play to tie the score at 2-2 at 12:40.

Trailing 3-2 in the third after Samuelsson's goal, the Blackhawks put an extra attacker on the ice in the final minutes but could not force overtime.

Only three teams have come back from losing the first three games of a series.

(Repoting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford; to query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)