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BLACKHAWKS ADVANCE TO WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS FOR THE SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR

Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images
05/12/2010 2:47 PM - Vancouver, BC-The Chicago Blackhawks have advanced to the 2010 Western Conference Finals with a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night at GM Place.  The victory secured a 4-games-to-2 series win over the Canucks, and a meeting with the San Jose Sharks in the Conference Finals.  San Jose will host Games 1 and 2, with dates and times to be determined.

Four of the five goals were scored by former IceHogs skaters. Winger Troy Brouwer began the scoring for Chicago when he tallied two minutes into the second period. Later in the frame Kris Versteeg (2:36) and Dave Bolland (19:15), shorthanded, extended Chicago's lead to 3-0. Dustin Byfuglien put the game out of reach for Chicago when he netted the Blackhawks fifth goal of the night 8:42 into the third period.

Antti Niemi, who has started all 12 of Chicago's playoff games this spring, earned his eighth postseason win after turning away 29 Vancouver shots.

Combined with last season, the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs marks the first time since 1989 and 1990 that Chicago has advanced to the Conference Finals in back-to-back seasons. The Western Conference Finals will be the first-ever postseason meeting between the Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.

The Blackhawks and Sharks finished as the top two teams in the Western Conference during the 2009-10 regular-season.  Chicago won three of the four meetings with San Jose during the campaign, earning a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 15 at the United Center, and 7-2 and 4-3 (OT) victories at HP Pavilion.  San Jose defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 on Dec. 22 in Chicago.