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Giroux fulfills friend's prediction with OT winner

by Dan Rosen
PHILADELPHIA  -- Claude Giroux realized late Wednesday that one of his buddies can accurately predict the future. Flyers fans probably want to hear what Luc Deschamps has in store for Game 4 as well.
Giroux, Philadelphia's 22-year-old center and the newest hero in this hockey town, said Deschamps sent him a rare text message earlier in the day that read, "I've got a feeling you're going to score the overtime winner tonight."
"I texted back, 'You're crazy,' " added Giroux, who absolutely did score the overtime winner 5:59 into the extra session to lift the Flyers to a 4-3 win in Game 3 at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday night. "I'm going to call him right now. It's probably the biggest goal of my career. I'm happy I was able to do that. There's a lot of emotion tonight."
It's fitting that Giroux got the goal that got Philadelphia back in this series. The Flyers are trying to author another historic comeback story and Giroux was able to pen his own chapter Wednesday after two forgetful performances at the United Center.
The Flyers left Chicago down 2-0 in the series -- and Giroux was partly to blame because he had zero points, zero shots and a minus-3 rating in Games 1 and 2. He was on the ice when Ben Eager scored his winning goal late in the second period Monday night.
After chatting with coach Peter Laviolette early Wednesday about relaxing, having fun and enjoying the moment, Giroux had a huge Game 3. He scored the OT winner, added assists on each of Philly's previous two goals and was a plus-2 in 20:14 of ice time.
"He loosened up a bit," Laviolette said. "You gotta remember that it's the Stanley Cup Finals. We talked about it, just lighten up a little bit.
"At this point of the year you know what you have to do in order to be successful," continued the passionate coach, who could pass as a motivational speaker. "There is a lot of work, a lot of intensity, a lot of competitiveness in the battles. In the same sense if you just tighten it up too much, you seize up a bit. We talked about it earlier, just having some fun tonight, coming out and letting it roll, go after them. I think he took that advice because he was smiling all day and then he went out and played a great game. Sometimes you just need to loosen up a little bit. Talented kid."
Giroux said he also had a talk with linemates Arron Asham and Daniel Carcillo about "having a big game for our team." They discussed the old simple-game formula. You know the one: go to the net, crash, get traffic, deflections, etc.
"We tried to win as many battles as we could," Giroux said.
Giroux didn't have to win a battle to score his goal, or to assist on Ville Leino's game-tying goal a scant 20 seconds after Patrick Kane gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead early in the third period.
He got the winner because he quietly sauntered into the right place and was smart enough to have his stick in the right spot so Matt Carle's shot-pass could hit his tape and deflect through a stunned Antti Niemi.
"(He's) another guy with a lot of skill, can make something out of nothing," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said of Giroux. "Good things happen when you go to the net. He drives the net on the 3-on-2 there and Matt Carle puts it on his tape. Quite a feeling to get that goal."
Prior to scoring the goal, Giroux got the Flyers' offense going by winning a neutral zone faceoff from Dave Bolland back to Chris Pronger. Philly's towering defenseman crossed the puck to Carle, who fed it up the ice to Giroux in the middle. Giroux sent a pass to Danny Briere on the left side and skated untouched into the slot.
As Briere was making a diagonal crossing pass to Carle at the right point, Giroux was making his way behind Bolland, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Carle found him with the pass and while Giroux was pulling his right skate back, he got his stick on the puck to deflect it off the crook of Niemi's right arm and above his right pad.
"Matt Carle joined the rush and he's a great player, can see the ice really well," Giroux said. "I was trying to get a stick on it and it just trickled in."
Giroux was a big reason why the Flyers even got to overtime.

"(He's) another guy with a lot of skill, can make something out of nothing. Good things happen when you go to the net. He drives the net on the 3-on-2 there and Matt Carle puts it on his tape. Quite a feeling to get that goal."
-- Scott Hartnell

His pass to Carle from the left wing wall into the slot hit Jordan Hendry's skate and went right on Niemi, who came up with a pad save but left a juicy rebound for Leino to slam in at 3:10 of the third.
Giroux also chipped in on Hartnell's go-ahead goal 9:55 into the second period, but nothing came close to the feeling he got from his ninth -- and so far most important -- goal of what has turned into a stellar playoffs.

"It just shows the character and the confidence he has in himself and we have in him," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "When the chips are down and things aren't going your way, you keep going and work that much harder to get your bounces. He's definitely done that."

Luc Deschamps already knew Giroux would. He may want to buy a lottery ticket now.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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