Having won seven-straight at home against the Blackhawks, dating back to 1996, the Flyers wanted to add another at an important turning point of the season.
BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer
Despite a decent record of 3-2-1 since the Olympic break, the Flyers have looked weak. Two of their wins came against the Eastern conference’s basement teams. Since Thursday night’s blowout at the hands of the offensively dead Boston Bruins, coach Laviolette has taken every opportunity to turn his team around and send them in a new direction.
The process involved hard practices, potential goalie changes, and reworking three of the four forward lines. Most notably was the change that brought Ville Leino back on the team and kept Arron Asham out.
Whether this all resulted in a wake up call or not was up to them and how well they met Chicago in this season-changing game against one of the league’s top tier teams.
The first two periods revealed a fully reinvigorated Philadelphia team, working hard along the boards, driving the net, and creating chances off clean, crisp passing. The end of the second, with the teams going at each other 4-on-4, played out with plenty of drama as the Flyers generated scoring chances one after another.
The third and final stanza started off quick with a Gagne wrister beating a diving Cristobal Huet for a 1-0 lead. Not even two minutes later, however, after a questionable call on Danny Briere, Kris Versteeg buried a rebound off a Marian Hossa shot for a power play goal and a tie game.
Marian Hossa found the back of the net for a goal of his own with about seven minutes remaining in the third period to take a one goal lead. Having failed to score in his last 13 games, Scott Hartnell caught a beautiful Kimmo Timonen breakout pass and took it in for the tying goal with two minutes remaining.
In the dying seconds of the game, Matt Carle buried Patrick Kane, creating a turnover and setting up the breakout. As the Flyers rushed up ice, Patrick Kane leaving the ice and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews coasting back leisurely, Scott Hartnell made a pass to Claude Giroux who set up a streaking Chris Pronger and the game winning goal with only two seconds left.
The Flyers’ drive, outworking their superior opponents in that final play, capped off a David and Goliath style win to wrap up a 3-1-0 home stand and lead into a four game road trip.
The two points separate the Flyers from being tied with the Montreal Canadiens in 6th/7th and helps to keep a gap between the lower seeded teams like Boston, the Rangers, and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Michael Leighton: With no goals in the first forty minutes and 58 shots, it appeared to be a goaltending battle, and Leighton did a great job of holding his own after being pulled in the Flyers’ 5-1 loss to the Bruins. He stopped 39 of 41 shots against Chicago.
Scott Hartnell: Hartnell was the last Flyer to break his cold streak and find the back of the net, but he sure picked the right time to do it. He notched a goal and an assist on the game’s last two goals, playing an integral role in the comeback.
Claude Giroux: Never shaken, the young Claude Giroux kept his cool and threaded the needle on a pass that set up Chris Pronger and the game winning goal.
Cristobal Huet: Despite the loss, Huet kept the Flyers off the board for much of the game, and hung in under a lot of pressure. He stopped 31 of Philadelphia’s 34 shots.
Chris Pronger: Veteran of more games than he’d care to count, the 35 year old Chris Pronger managed to completely shut down the Blackhawks leading scorer Patrick Kane, and recognized the forming rush and jumped on board to create a goal and win 3-2.