(Chicago, IL) - If the Philadelphia Flyers are going to win their first Stanley Cup championship in 35 years, they have no choice but to beat the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
They know that. Now, it's just a matter of making a few adjustments from the one-goal losses they suffered here in Games 1 and 2. The series opener was a wacky 6-5 decision, while the Blackhawks eked out a 2-1 victory in Game 2 behind a 33-save performance by Antti Niemi.
"I liked our games here … they could have gone either way," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said. "The second game, I don't think we took advantage of some of the opportunities that we had to score. We've got to bear down when we get some of those chances."
|Philadelphia Flyers' Ian Laperriere, right, talks to the media as Simon Gagne listens at a news conference on Saturday, June 5, 2010, in Chicago. The Flyers play the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals on Sunday, June 6 in Chicago.(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) |
The Flyers certainly had plenty of opportunities to win either of the first two games in Chicago, only to come up short. After generating plenty of offense in Game 1, they were held off the scoreboard for the first 45:20 of Game 2 before Simon Gagne scored on the power play. Philadelphia outshot the Blackhawks 15-4 in that third period.
"I think both teams were not too happy about how the defense played," Gagne said of Game 1. "But the second game, I liked the way we played in the second half of the game. I thought in the third period we definitely played the way we wanted. We lost the first two games here, but a lot of good things happened. Now, it's 2-2. It's up to us to play a better game here in Chicago for 60 minutes."
The good news for the Flyers is that they enter Sunday's action with a 9-0 record in Games 4 and beyond this postseason. They also have already won games in hostile environments such as Boston and Montreal and know what to expect from the rabid Chicago fans after playing the first two games of this series here.
But the Flyers know that when the opportunities arise, they must cash in. It's the only chance they have at winning this series.
"We played well in the games … we were right there," Philadelphia captain Mike Richards said. "We've been a great road team all year long, we've been a great road team in the playoffs. We don't want to change anything up from what we did in the first two games. It's just a matter of execution. In the second game, we had a lot of chances. We were just a little bit off with the execution. Hopefully that will come tomorrow night. We've played well on the road all year, so we don't want to change too much."
The Flyers obviously tweaked a few things following the back-and-forth affair in Game 1. While the defense was much improved, the offense was stagnant. Both will need to be solid if Philadelphia -- which is 5-6 on the road this postseason -- plans on reeling off a third straight win against the Western Conference champs.
"The first game was a wild game … probably nobody expected it," Laviolette said. "Certainly, we didn't. I'm sure Joel (Quenneville) and the Hawks didn't expect it and you guys didn't expect it, either. It's hard to say that if we had tightened up a little bit, we could have won. But that one's over with. I think we're confident on the road and confident with our game right now.
"We know we've got to win here. We know we've got to put one in the books on the road."