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Blackhawks-Flyers ties it at 2 after second period

NHL.com @NHL

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Brent Sopel scored his first goal of the playoffs to pull the Chicago Blackhawks into a 2-2 tie with the Philadelphia Flyers after two periods in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night.

Sopel beat Michael Leighton with a one-timer after John Madden won a faceoff late in the period.

The Flyers went up 2-1 when Chris Pronger was credited with his fifth goal of the postseason following a video review. Pronger's power-play goal midway through the second period took a couple minutes of playing time and review time before going up on the scoreboard.

Pronger took a slap shot from just inside the blue line that trickled past goalie Antti Niemi, but defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson poked it out of the net and play continued for another 1:42 even though the red light went on.

Officials finally reviewed it after the next whistle and put the elapsed time back on the clock after declaring the goal.

The Blackhawks are two wins shy of their first championship since 1961, while the Flyers haven't won it all since the second of consecutive titles in 1975.

The odds favor Chicago. Only two team teams in 33 tries have won the first two games at home and lost the series. Just four teams have rallied from a 2-0 series hole in the Stanley Cup finals to win it all.

One of those teams - Pittsburgh - did it last year. The Penguins beat Detroit on the road in Game 7 after trailing the series 3-2.

After tying an NHL record with five goals in the first period of Game 1, the teams have combined for one goal in the opening frame of the next two.

Duncan Keith's second goal of the playoffs early in the second tied it at 1. Keith scored on a one-timer from the top of the left faceoff circle. His shot deflected off Flyers forward Jeff Carter's stick. Patrick Kane got an assist on the goal for his first point of the series, but Jonathan Toews remains absent from the scoresheet for the Blackhawks.

Danny Briere scored his 11th goal of the playoffs late in the first to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Briere flipped a shot into an open net off a backhand pass from a falling-down Scott Hartnell on the power play. Niemi stopped Braydon Coburn's initial shot, but was out of position after Hartnell's acrobatic play.

Leighton, who was pulled after giving up five goals in Game 1, had 19 saves through the first two periods; Niemi had 14.

The Blackhawks took the opener 6-5 in a frenetic-paced, back-and-forth shootout. Both defenses tightened up in Game 2 as Chicago earned a 2-1 victory.

In the first Stanley Cup finals game at the Wachovia Center in 13 years, a boisterous sellout crowd of 20,297 - the largest ever to watch an NHL game in Pennsylvania - did everything it could to give Philadelphia the home-ice advantage. The orange-clad fans wore T-shirts featuring a photo of a singing Kate Smith and the words: "Broad Street Believin"'

The "Let's Go Flyers!" chants started more than 30 minutes before the puck dropped. The roars were deafening when Lauren Hart, the daughter of longtime former Flyers broadcaster Gene Hart, sang "God Bless America," alternating lyrics with Smith, who was on a video image. Smith's rendition of the song has been a rallying anthem for the Flyers since the mid 1970s.

These teams were preseason favorites to reach the finals, but they took different roads to get here. The Blackhawks finished second in the West and breezed past Nashville and Vancouver before sweeping top-seeded San Jose in the conference finals.

The Flyers endured a frustrating season that included a coaching change from John Stevens to Peter Laviolette and bounced back from 14th place in the 15-team East. They needed a shootout victory in the regular-season finale against the New York Rangers just to get in, overcame numerous injuries to key players and kept their run going with an historic comeback against Boston in the second round.

The seventh-seeded Flyers knocked off New Jersey in five games and then staged one of the greatest comebacks in sports history by rallying from both a 3-0 series deficit and 3-0 hole in Game 7 to beat the Bruins on Simon Gagne's power-play goal. They beat Montreal in five games to reach the finals for the first time since 1997.

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