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Flyers hope home ice gives them a lift in Game 3

by John Kreiser


(Blackhawks lead best-of-7 series 2-0)

Big story -- The Stanley Cup Final comes to Philadelphia for the first time since 1997, and the home team desperately needs a win. The Flyers outplayed the Blackhawks for the last two periods of Game 2, but got only one of 33 shots past Antti Niemi and lost 2-1, putting them down 2-0 in the best-of-7 series after their second one-goal loss in as many games. Philadelphia overcame a 3-0 series deficit to beat Boston in the second round, but it's hard to picture the Flyers or their fans wanting to bet on doing that again.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks -- Chicago can set an NHL record tonight by winning its eighth consecutive road game -- not that the Hawks want to talk about their road success.

"We're the last guys to talk about (the road streak) before the game or at any time," defenseman Brian Campbell said.. We never would talk about that and I bet you if it wasn't brought up by you guys, it wouldn't even come into our heads. It's just Game 3 to us."

The Hawks actually stayed in hotels at home before Games 1 and 2, trying to emulate their playoff success on the road. They've won their last seven games away from the United Center after losing their first road game this spring at Nashville.

"It's a good streak, but it doesn't mean much going into Game 3," said forward Patrick Sharp, who has five of his eight goals away from home. "Philly is a great atmosphere to play in. It's really tough for a road team to go in there and win games, but if we are able to play the way we have on the road we should be OK."

Flyers -- When all else fails, try to get inside your opponent's head. That sounds like what Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette was trying to do on Tuesday when talking about Hawks goaltender Antti Niemi.

The 26-year-old Finnish rookie stopped 32 of 33 shots in the Hawks' 2-1 victory in Game 2. Laviolette went to great pains to remind Niemi that he's never been here before.

"We've got to put more pressure on their goaltender. He's a rookie goaltender playing in the Stanley Cup Finals," said Laviolette, who coached Carolina to the Cup four years ago. "We have to get on the board here tomorrow night and put a little bit of doubt there. Our team is capable of scoring a lot of goals, put a lot of pressure on him.

"It's a tough position, goaltending," Laviolette added. "He's representing a city that hasn't won a Cup in 50 years. We have to give him a crack of doubt. We can do that tomorrow night."

Who's hot -- After allowing five goals in the first two periods of Game 1, Niemi has found his game -- allowing just one goal on 38 shots in the last 80 minutes he's played. … Philadelphia's special teams have done the job so far -- the Flyers have power-play goals in each of the first two games and haven't surrendered an extra-man goal to the Hawks. Philadelphia's checkers have done a good job in the first two games -- Chicago's top line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien has yet to score a goal (Byfuglien has one assist) and is a collective minus-7.

Injury report -- Chicago is likely to be without forwards Andrew Ladd (shoulder) for a third consecutive game. The Flyers are as healthy as any team could be after playing more than 100 games since October.

Stat pack -- This is the fifth year in a row that a team has started the Final by winning the first two games at home. The only team that didn't win the Cup was the 2009 Detroit Red Wings. … One of two streaks will end in this game: Philadelphia has lost all six playoff games to Chicago, but the Blackhawks have dropped their last eight visits to the WachoviaCenter since winning their first trip in November 1996.

Puck drop -- Two Hawks, Patrick Sharp and Ben Eager, began their careers in Philadelphia before being dealt to Chicago in separate transactions. Both were members of the AHL champion Philadelphia Phantoms in 2005 -- a team that won the Calder Cup before a crowd of more than 20,000. They know the Wachovia Center will be rocking when the Flyers hit the ice.

"It's going to be loud," Sharp said Tuesday. "They're going to be all over us and they're going to be supporting their team. I think we're all looking forward to that. … It's going to be a fun atmosphere for everybody. We want to make sure as a team we come out and quiet them as best we can."

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