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Blackhawks expect more of the same from Flyers

by Brian Compton
PHILADELPHIA -- Three games, all decided by just one goal. That's how tight things have been thus far in the Stanley Cup Final.

While some fans in Chicago may have thought the highly favored Blackhawks would cruise to their first title in 49 years, the players certainly never felt that way. The Philadelphia Flyers may have entered the postseason as the No. 7 seed from the Eastern Conference, but they haven't performed like it.

"Both teams have gotten to this point for a reason," said Chicago defenseman Brent Sopel, who scored his first goal of the playoffs in Wednesday's 4-3 overtime loss that trimmed his team's series lead to 2-1. "They're good teams. There's not going to be blowouts. There's going to be no pretty goals. It's going to be a war everywhere."

Philadelphia forced overtime when Ville Leino erased a 3-2 deficit just 20 seconds after Patrick Kane's first goal of the series had given the Blackhawks the lead. Less than a minute after Simon Gagne had a goal taken away following a video review, Claude Giroux beat Antti Niemi at 5:59 of overtime to give Philadelphia the win.

But the question is, will these close games continue? There's certainly nothing to indicate they won't.

"It's very competitive," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's a fast-paced game, a fast-paced series. Both teams have some weapons that can attack offensively. I think they are respectful for their attack games as well.

"You can't forecast scores. We had a wild first game, a little bit lower scoring (in Game 2). This game was on the line from start to finish, as all three games have been. But it's entertaining hockey, and the pace is all-out."

Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith believes the games will continue to be tight. The series resumes on Friday at the Wachovia Center (8 p.m. ET, Versus, CBC, RDS).

 "Yeah, I would think so," Keith said. "We've played with a lot of one-goal games throughout this year. So it's not something we haven't seen before. What can you say? They made a nice play at the end."

It was also a fortunate play for the Flyers, as Giroux managed to redirect Matt Carle's shot past Niemi to make it a 2-1 series. It's the type of break needed during the postseason, and one the Blackhawks hope to earn in Game 4.

"Very thin," forward Tomas Kopecky said of the first three contests. "Especially right now, at this time of the year, you have to have lots of things to go your way. You have to be a little bit lucky and always you have to work really hard and earn that luck as well. It's a really thin line between losing and winning."  

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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