The Philadelphia Flyers potted three first period goals and looked like they were going to rout the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night, but the young Hawks mounted a bit of a comeback to pull the game close. Still, the Flyers pulled off a 5-3 victory and evened the series.
Mike Richards, Matt Carle, and series hero Claude Giroux all had goals in the first frame and Villie Leino added another one as the Flyers headed into the final period with a 4-1 lead. It took a late surge from the Blackhawks to get close, though, as Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell cut the deficit to just one goal.
After Jeff Carter popped in an empty netter, however, it was all over and the Blackhawks watched their series lead disappear before a rowdy Philly crowd.
So far the home team has won all four games in the series and, if that holds, the situation still favours the boys from Chicago. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, their top players have been rendered all but useless thanks to tight checking and some mind games from the Philly defence. Led by Chris Pronger, the Flyers’ defenders have been containing and controlling Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane like no other team’s been able to do this post-season.
The series has been filled with goals aplenty thus far, but the big guns have been mostly left out of the race. Richards didn’t score until Friday night, for instance, and the Blackhawks have been working hard to contain Philly’s other vital players.
It’s hard to say that either team has momentum going into Chicago on Sunday. With the Flyers and Blackhawks trading goals like this, the series has been more about the last team to score than it has the first to get and hold a lead. The goaltenders, Michael Leighton and Antti Niemi, appear almost out of gas going into these games.
In any event, it truly is anyone’s series now. As things swing back to Chicago for Sunday’s contest, both the Flyers and Blackhawks are hoping for a little of that playoff magic.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.