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Gagne tips his hat to Niemi

by Mike G. Morreale
CHICAGO -- Just when it appeared the Philadelphia Flyers would put together another one of their patented comebacks, Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi slammed the door in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
Simon Gagne could only tip his cap to the rookie netminder, who turned aside 32 shots, including 14 in a feverishly played third period. It was Gagne who finally solved Niemi when he connected 5:20 into the third with his team on the power play. Gagne's eighth of the playoffs would pull his team within 2-1, but that's the closest Philadelphia came.
The Flyers will regroup and look to pare Chicago's 2-0 series lead on Wednesday at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia in Game 3 (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS).
Gagne, who has recorded points in eight of 11 games since returning from a right foot injury in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, opened the game on a line with center Claude Giroux and Arron Asham. But coach Peter Laviolette moved his veteran sniper back to the top line alongside Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in the early stages of the second when the Flyers started to regain some offensive flair.
The line changes were expected since Laviolette reinserted Daniel Carcillo back into the lineup following a three-game absence. Gagne, who logged 16:37 of ice time on 23 shifts, had three shots and delivered two hits, spoke to the media following the game.
Q: Do you feel the club tried everything it could to get the equalizer late?
Gagne:  I felt that we put everything at the net in the third and we tried to tie the game and (Niemi) made some big saves. Even at the end, in the last minute of the game, we had a couple of great chances in the slot. He was very good (Monday) night.
Q: How about the tight defensive coverage? Do you feel you sacrificed offense to focus more on defense in the opening two periods?
Gagne:  Both sides were tight defensively. I don't think both teams were expecting to be that wide open (in Game 1) and I think each made some change (Monday). I thought we did play a lot better defensively and that's why we were 0-0 after one period. I like the way we played defensively and I sure hope we're able to generate the push we showed in the third into Game 3 (on Wednesday). We opened the game up more, but we have to play better defensively. Now it's our turn to go home and do the same to them, what they did to us."
Q: When you look at the big picture, is it tough going down, 0-2, even though you're headed home?
Gagne:  Well, we still feel confident. It's not like we got outplayed (Monday). We lost the game 2-1 and we were in both games; we were right there. I don't think we have to be that negative. We just have to go home and do the same thing to them; win our two games at home.
Q: Does it help that you've been in this situation before (in the Eastern Conference Semifinals)?
Gagne:  Maybe. We know we did it before and, another good thing, we're going home and we've got a good record at home in the playoffs (7-1). We feel we can win some hockey games there.
Q: How important is Game 3?
Gagne:  Yeah, the next game is going to be the biggest game we play all year and we're going to be ready for it.
Q: What went so well in the third period (when the Flyers outshot the Blackhawks, 15-4)?
Gagne:  We just tried to put everything at the net and, not that we didn't do it early on, it's just that when you're down 2-0 you have no choice but to get back in the game and tie it. We opened the game up more. I think we're right there, it's just now we have to find a way to get the first goal. That's what we'll try to do the next game in Philly.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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