It was Claude Giroux who managed to give the Flyers some life on Wednesday night. Scoring 5:59 into overtime, Giroux gave the Flyers their first win in the series and narrowed the gap as his team moves towards the Stanley Cup.
The 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks came in front of a roaring crowd filled with Philly fans and cut the Blackhawks’ series lead to 2-1. Analysts everywhere were quick to point out that we “finally had a series,” but this has been a barnburner from day one.
The Flyers have been this post-season’s quintessential rally team, after all, and I know from my own lost bets and missed predictions that this isn’t a team to count out at any time. They fought back to defeat the Bruins, for instance, making history when they were down 3-0 in the series. So a 2-0 deficit going into Wednesday’s contest at home? Not a problem.
Philadelphia’s win also ended a critical Blackhawks winning streak, ending the team’s seven game winning streak and the team’s seven game road winning streak. The Flyers did more than win the game; they proved that their opponents were human.
Chicago goalie Antti Niemi stopped 28 shots in the contest, but Michael Leighton came out on the winning end with a convincing performance of his own. He’s proved that the coaching staff was right to stand by him and he’s got to have a lot of confidence rolling into Game 4.
As for the Blackhawks, they’re a young team and they’ll need to keep their confidence going after this loss. It wasn’t a huge loss, of course, but it was a loss and it does draw the series closer than Chicago would have liked.
“Right now it looks like they have the momentum in the series,” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. “But if we take Game 4, then we put ourselves in a great position to go back and play in front of our home crowd and hopefully win it there.”
Even with the win and considerable momentum, word around the campfire is that most so-called experts remain firmly fixed in the Blackhawks camp. Rallying cries of “Chicago in 5” fill most hockey message boards and many have already written off the Flyers, but the team from Philly is making one hell of a convincing case for themselves.
It’s hard (and foolish) to write the Flyers off at this point. And if my past mistakes have taught me anything, it’s that this series is far from over.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.