Indeed, the Chicago Blackhawks' power play was back in a big way Sunday night.
Entering with just one goal via the man advantage in nine tries, the Blackhawks found the back of the net twice in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final and took a 3-2 lead in this best-of-7 series in a 7-4 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center.
Chicago opened the scoring on the power play when Brent Seabrook
notched his fourth goal of the playoffs 12:17 into the game. It was a sigh of relief for the Blackhawks, who benefited from the puck hitting the left skate of Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger before trickling past Michael Leighton.
"There's been bounces that go each way throughout the series," Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell said. "Off backs, off goaltenders, sticks breaking … it's part of the game. I'm sure the fans love it. (But) I don't think we executed very well early in the series. You get a bounce here and there, and I had a chance in the slot and I've got to hit the net there. We still can be better. We just have to move the puck quicker and move ourselves a lot better. That's a key to the power play."
The Blackhawks certainly moved the puck quickly when they scored their second power-play goal of the night at 15:45 of the second period. Less than 30 seconds after Pronger was penalized for hooking, Chicago raced into the Flyers' zone and capitalized when Dustin Byfuglien tapped a cross-crease feed from Jonathan Toews
past Brian Boucher to give the Blackhawks a 5-2 lead.
"Two big goals," said Patrick Kane
, who had a goal and an assist and started the play that led to Byfuglien's tally. "The first one I thought was huge by 'Seabs' to get us going. I thought we were playing pretty good. To get some results off that was pretty nice.
"You know, the second power-play goal I thought was just a perfect entry. That's exactly what we're looking for. Quick puck movement and you saw the play -- Sharp to me, to Keith to Tazer and a great pass to Buff. It was off our stick within two seconds every time."
Added Byfuglien: "We just settled down and played our game and that's a big factor, just even with the even strength, we came out ready to go, controlling the puck a little better. That led into the power play with guys just settling down, confidence and just playing. That's something we needed to do. That's something we did very well tonight."
It was that type of confidence that had been missing on the power play in the first four games of this series, which resumes on Wednesday at the Wachovia Center (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). Despite the lack of production prior to Game 5, the Blackhawks claim they never lost faith in their special teams.
"There were some questions about our power play going in," Patrick Sharp
said. "We've had lots of stretches where we were 0-for-6, 0-for-8 and managed to come through during the season, so we weren't too worried about it. We got five guys on both units who like to make plays, can move the puck and we scored a couple big goals today."
Now that the Blackhawks are cashing in on the power play, the Flyers may be leery of taking penalties considering their season could be 60 minutes away from its conclusion. Clearly, they'll need to be better Wednesday.
"Everything seemed just a little bit off tonight," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said. "They had a bit more jump than we did. They were moving the puck a little bit crisper."Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer