PHILADELPHIA – Who needs Superman?

On a night a suspended Dwight Howard recorded a double-double in blog and Twitter posts from his hotel room, the Orlando Magic advanced to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 114-89 in Game 6 on Thursday.

Playing without Howard and injured guard Courtney Lee, the Magic thumped the Sixers from the start.

Rashard Lewis scored 29 points and Rafer Alston had 21 to help the Magic win for the second time this series in Philadelphia. The Magic’s decisive run came early when they made 12 of their first 19 shots.

Alston hit two 3-pointers during the Magic’s fast start that put them up 15 and quickly negated the home crowd. J.J. Redick made all three 3-point attempts in the first half and ably filled in for Lee.

NHL

Canucks 5, Blackhawks 3

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Sami Salo scored on a 3-on-1 rush with 1:13 left, and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Chicago Blackhawks in the series opener after blowing a three-goal lead in the third period.

After Nikolai Khabibulin made a sliding save on Steve Bernier’s one-timer, the trailing Salo was all alone to tap in the rebound.

Patrick Kane scored twice for Chicago, and David Bolland tied it with 5:29 left.

Ryan Johnson scored into an empty net with 15.5 seconds left to wrap up the victory. Pavol Demitra scored on a power play, and Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler added even-strength goals for Vancouver, 16-1-1 at home since the start of February.

Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series is Saturday night in Vancouver.

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo made 28 saves. He had an NHL-best 1.15 goals-against average and .962 save percentage in a first-round sweep of St. Louis,

After Chicago rallied twice from three-goal deficits in its six-game victory over Calgary, Kane got the Blackhawks’ rally started 1:01 into the third, pouncing on a loose puck in the slot off a rush and roofing a quick shot over Luongo’s shoulder. Kane cit it one on a power-play rebound, and Bolland tied it on another rebound.

Khabibulin made 22 saves, including three great ones to keep it close early in the third period, but still hasn’t beaten the Canucks since Jan. 26, 1998, with Phoenix.

Kyle Wellwood added two assists and drew 10 minutes in penalties for the Canucks, but didn’t get credit for his best play, a long pass to start the late 3-on-1 rush that led to the winning goal.

Nine days after sweeping St. Louis, the Canucks’ power play looked rusty early, failing to record a shot after Chicago forward Andrew Ladd got a 4-minute high-sticking penalty for cutting Wellwood. But on the next shift, Wellwood walked around defenseman Duncan Keith to draw a hooking penalty, and Demitra opened the scoring after a nice passing play started by Wellwood.

Wellwood faked a shot and fed low to Mats Sundin, who one-touched it through the crease to Demitra on the backdoor. Demitra settled the puck before lifting it over Khabibulin’s glove with 4:38 left in the first.

Henrik Sedin doubled the lead 5 minutes into the second, going to the top of the crease to bang in twin brother Daniel’s pass from below the goal line.

Ryan Kesler made it 3-0 on a similar play with 5 minutes left in the period, banging Wellwood’s pass from behind the net under Khabibulin from in tight.

The Canucks, short-handed 24 times in four games against St. Louis, only gave the Blackhawks two chances on the power play through 40 minutes. But Kane made them pay for the third – a needless roughing penalty for a late hit by tough guy Darcy Hordichuk – to keep the comeback going.

Notes: Khabibulin came into the game with a 3.23 goals-against average and .879 save percentage in 11 games against the Canucks since his last win. … Chicago captain Jonathan Toews and D Matt Walker both played after missing practice Wednesday. … Chicago actually finished with more points in the regular season, but Vancouver got home-ice advantage as the No. 3 seed because it won the Northwest Division, passing Calgary on the final day of the season.

AP-ES-05-01-09 0004EDT


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