Skip to main content

Record-setting night for Flyers' Leino

by Mike G. Morreale
PHILADELPHIA --  Flyers winger Ville Leino wasn't even born when Brian Propp established a rookie record for points in a playoff season some 30 years ago.

Leino now shares that mark after knocking home the biggest goal of his career in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, helping the Flyers to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Leino scored his sixth goal of the playoffs -- which equals his combined total from the regular season, split between the Flyers and Red Wings -- just 20 seconds after Chicago's Patrick Kane had given the Blackhawks their first lead of the game 2:50 into the third period. The game-tying goal came off a splendid feed from Claude Giroux.

"I passed it to 'G' (Giroux) on wing and he tried a pass back-post," Leino said. "I didn't know how he came back to me, past the goalie and their D-man, but I had the empty net there."

"We didn't even have time to dwell (on Kane's goal) on the bench," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "It was boom, boom and just a big play by him. 'G' made a good play off the net. It's nice to see that little things like that (goal by Kane) don't really faze us."

But Leino's goal did deflate the Chicago bench.

"It's always a big shift after we score or they score," Blackhawks winger Tomas Kopecky said. "We know that, and each guy in the dressing room is basically doing what they can. It was one of those games we were going to take five minutes like we did after last game and we are going to learn from it. The one good thing is we're playing back on Friday."

After sitting out as a healthy scratch the first four games of the playoffs, Leino has produced points in nine of his last 14 games. He now has 15 points in 16 games this spring. Propp had 5 goals and 15 points in 19 games during the 1980 playoffs in which the Flyers dropped a six-game series to the New York Islanders in the Cup Final.

"I knew (Propp) was one point ahead, so I guess I did tie it," Leino said. "That's one thing to be happy for, but obviously we have a big game on Friday, so there's a lot more to go. We're back in the series now and it's a huge confidence builder and we got momentum back now and we'll be ready to come back on Friday."

The Flyers will now look to square this series in Game 4 Friday after snapping Chicago's seven-game road winning streak on Wednesday. The Blackhawks lead the series, 2-1.

Leino and his linemates, Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell, have been the most productive unit against the Blackhawks this series. Leino, however, had his best effort while logging a personal-high 23:12 in this series. He also had two hits, five takeaways and three shots.

"We were ready to battle," Leino said. "We had a meeting with coach and we knew we were going to get a lot of ice time. It's fun to play when you get ice time and are enjoying hockey and it showed (Wednesday)."

Briere, who notched one goal and one assist in 21:47 of ice time, also finished a personal-best 75 percent on faceoffs (9 of 12) in this series. He can see the confidence in Leino building with each game.

"There were a lot of guys who played well -- Claude (Giroux), Scott (Hartnell) and I thought Mike Richards played hard again and our defensive corps played well," Briere said. "Ville has been gaining more and more confidence. He's been playing with more confidence every game, it seems. He's strong on the puck and gets in the zone. Sometimes you think the play is dead, but he holds on and they'll be three guys on him, but he finds a way to keep the play alive and create more chances, so he's a pleasure to play with."

In addition to his teammates, even the opposition is beginning to realize the impact of Leino.

"That Leino's a special player," Blackhawks wing Adam Burish said. "I feel like when he's got the puck, he's just guarding it out there. He doesn't give it up, he keeps it. He always makes a smart play. (That line's) been pretty dangerous. I give that Leino a lot of credit."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.