BLACKHAWKS at FLYERS
TV: VERSUS (HD), CBC (HD), RDS (HD)
(Chicago leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)
Big Story --
It's up to the Flyers now to hold serve at home in order to send this series back to Chicago all even. Philadelphia got itself back in the series with a 4-3 overtime win Wednesday night thanks to Claude Giroux
's deflection goal 14:01 into the extra session. That talk about how they were still confident after two losses in Chicago doesn't seem so absurd now. All three games in the series have been decided by a single goal, and it seems crazy to think anything will change now. It's really just a matter of what kind of game will they play. Game 1 was wide open and chock full of mistakes, which is why you saw 11 goals. Game 2 was tight checking, which is why there were only three goals scored. Game 3 was fast-paced with high energy and good hitting. It was the best game of the series.
They still are feeling good, and they should be. Despite the loss Wednesday the Hawks are still up 2-1 in the series and they are buoyed by the fact that Philadelphia needed a deflection goal in overtime to finally win a game.
But, there are a couple of stats that don't bode well for Chicago. The Hawks are being outscored on the power play, 4-0, and they've been outshot, 30-8, in the third period over the last two games (15-4 in each game). You can't say they were burned in either period because they hung on to win Game 2 and brought Game 3 deep into overtime, but it's certainly an issue that is worth talking about.
Throughout the playoffs the Blackhawks have been the team that has gotten better as the game has sped along, but that hasn't happened in the last two games. They've also been effective on the power play, but are 0-for-6 in the Final.
"I think it's just momentum throughout games, and the momentum shifts," Kris Versteeg said. "We just have to go out and play our game, a full 60 minutes. We haven't played a full 60 minutes at all in this series and we're going to have to do that in the next game."
Giroux was the hero the other night thanks to a slap pass from Matt Carle
. He also assisted on the Flyers' two previous goals. Chris Pronger
played another strong game, and again got over 32 minutes of ice time. Carle had two assists and nearly touched 30 minutes (29:43). Despite a minus-3 rating, Braydon Coburn
had an assist, three shots and was physical with five hits. The second line of Scott Hartnell
, Danny Briere
and Ville Leino was dominant, combining for 3 goals and 2 assists. Michael Leighton
made 24 saves for the win. Even fourth-line guys such as Blair Betts
and Darroll Powe (six hits) helped the cause.
However, once again the Flyers' top line of Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter was MIA. So far in this series those guys have produced just 1 goal and 2 assists, and they are a minus-13. It's pretty hard to think the Flyers are going to win three of the next four games without any help from their so-called best players.
"I'm sure at some point things will start clicking for them, but I can't worry about that," Briere said. "I have to worry about what I can do on the ice, what my line can do, and I have enough to worry about there as it is."
Who's Hot --
The Flyers second scoring line of Briere, Hartnell and Leino has been lights out. All three scored goals in Games 1 and 3, and combined they have 6 goals and 8 assists. Briere has 2 goals and 4 assists, Hartnell has 2 goals and 3 assists and Leino has 2 goals and 1 assist. For the Blackhawks, fourth-liner Ben Eager has an unlikely goal and an assist over the last two games and Patrick Kane
broke out with a goal and an assist in Game 3.
Injury Report --
Blackhawks left wing Andrew Ladd is still day-to-day with what is thought to be a shoulder injury. The Flyers report no significant injuries.
Stat Pack --
Not since 1998 have the first three games of a Stanley Cup Final been decided by one goal. … The Flyers win Wednesday was the franchise's first in the Stanley Cup Final since 1987, snapping a seven-game losing streak. They lost Game 7 of the '87 Final to Edmonton, all four games in the '97 Final to Detroit, and Games 1 and 2 of this series. It was also Philadelphia's first postseason victory against Chicago. … The home clubs have won the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final in five straight seasons dating back to the '06 Oilers winning Game 3 at Rexall Place over Carolina. … The Flyers are 8-1 at Wachovia Center in the postseason and they've won six straight. The Blackhawks are 7-2 on the road, and the OT loss in Game 3 snapped a seven-game road winning streak. ... In five home starts, Leighton is 5-0 with two shutouts, a 1.18 goals-against average and .958 save percentage (137 saves on 143 shots).
Puck Drop --
"It seems like we're putting more emphasis on doing the right things in the third period and when we do we're having success," Richards said of Philadelphia's ability to control the play and the pace in the third period. "In the second period (Wednesday) we started turning the pucks over and maybe got more conservative. In the third period I think we just went at them, threw it all out there and obviously had success doing so. We threw pucks at the net and in the overtime it went in."