-- Not since March 30 had the Chicago Blackhawks
felt the effects of a two-game losing streak.
The Philadelphia Flyers
gave them a painful reminder on Friday night.
With a 4-0 record in games following losses this postseason, the Blackhawks were confident that they would bounce back in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and have a chance to wrap things up in the Windy City on Sunday night. But the resilient Flyers had other plans, as they scored three times in the first period en route to a 5-3 victory to even this best-of-7 series at two wins apiece.
Overall, the Blackhawks now have lost 10 consecutive games in Philadelphia, which improved to 9-0 this postseason in Games 4 and beyond.
"It wasn't good enough," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews
said of his team's effort. "I don't know if it was their crowd that gets them going, but we've got to find a way in this building. We need to click better from the start when we come back (for Game 6). We'll be ready for that when we do. We'll put this one behind us and get excited that we're playing at home again."
The Blackhawks won a pair of one-goal games at the United Center and headed to Philadelphia with a 2-0 series lead. But Claude Giroux
scored in overtime Wednesday, and the Flyers continued to ride that wave of momentum into Game 4 to even things up.
Chicago cut a three-goal deficit to 4-3 in the third period, but Jeff Carter
denied any chance of a comeback when he scored an empty-net goal at 19:35. Game 5 will be played back at the United Center on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS) as both teams aim to pull within a win of what has been an elusive championship.
"We wanted to win at least one on the road," Toews said. "We had a lot of success before coming in here. It's frustrating when you're that close, but tonight was kind of like (Wednesday) night where it was too little, too late."
Not only did the Blackhawks take too many trips to the penalty box in Game 4, but their top line continued to struggle. Patrick Kane
was a minus-4, while Toews and Dustin Byfuglien
had three shots apiece and failed to sustain any pressure against the likes of Flyers defensemen Chris Pronger
(plus-4) and Braydon Coburn
, who paced the club in the ice-time department at 27:52.
Can the Blackhawks win if their top line continues to be held off the scoresheet?
"Obviously not," Toews said. "The first two games, we got contributions all over our lineup. It's tough to have that go on every single night. You need to get your power play going, your top couple of lines. It is frustrating, but what are you going to do? You're not going to sit there and cry about it. You go out the next shift and you try and do something. The second you start scoring goals, people get off your back."
Despite what transpired in Philadelphia, the Blackhawks remain confident. While some in Chicago may be pushing the panic button, Toews believes his club will bounce back on Sunday in front of what should be a raucous crowd of more than 22,000.
"Even when we were up 2-0, we knew the series was far from over," Toews said. "We're not going to kick ourselves and make it out to be something bigger than it is. It's tough. They did a great job to come back and tie it up the series. We'll regroup."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL