Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Giroux the hero, as Flyers climb back into series with OT decision

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Claude Giroux's tally at the 5:59 mark of overtime lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals from Wachovia Center.

The play began with Danny Briere carrying the puck down the left wing. He stopped below the circle, and dished to the point for Matt Carle. The young defenseman's slap-pass found Giroux in the slot for a deft deflection that managed to trickle through Blackhawks netminder Antti Niemi and in.

Giroux finished with a goal and two assists for the Flyers, who got back in the series after a pair of one-goal defeats in Chicago to start the best-of- seven set and look to tie things up in Game 4 on Friday.

Scott Hartnell added a goal and one helper while Ville Leino and Briere also tallied. Michael Leighton stopped 24-of-27 shots for the win by Philadelphia, which had lost seven straight championship-round games dating back to Game 6 of the 1987 Finals against Edmonton.

Patrick Kane, Brent Sopel and Duncan Keith tallied for the Blackhawks, who could have taken a near-insurmountable 3-0 series edge with a victory. Niemi yielded four scores on 32 shots in defeat.

The game-decider came less than a minute after the Flyers thought they had walked away with a key victory. Just after the five-minute mark of the extra session, the home team had a potential game-winner wiped out by replay.

Chris Pronger sent a lead pass to the left wing side for Simon Gagne, who pushed the puck into the Chicago zone to Jeff Carter. He dished back to Gagne, whose floater caromed on net. The disc hit the right post and slid all the way to the left side and parallel to the goal line, where Niemi covered up. Although Carter came in late to poke it into the cage, play was ruled to be dead at that point.

The Flyers were awarded the game's first advantage when Chicago forward Marian Hossa was called for slashing, and Philadelphia cashed in on the back end of the two-minute minor.

Stationed in the high slot, Giroux fed to Braydon Coburn for a blast from the right point which Niemi stopped but could not control. Hartnell, while falling in front, pushed the puck across the crease to the left side for
Briere, who swept the puck into an open net at 14:58.

For Briere, it was his team-best 11th score of the playoffs.

Mike Richards missed a golden chance from the right circle with an open net on a power play early in the second period and the Blackhawks responded when Keith's point drive deflected off the stick of Carter for a 1-1 tie at 2:49.

Philly took a 2-1 edge on a man advantage just prior to the midway point of regulation on a play which was reviewed minutes after it occurred. Chris Pronger unleashed a shot from the point which knuckled in on net after a deflection from Hartnell and trickled through Niemi.

The puck rolled on edge and was swept away quickly, but a relatively brief review determined that the disc was fully over the line at 9:55.

Chicago didn't convert on a power play with a little more than five minutes to play in the second when Leighton was given a delay-of-game call for pushing his net off the moorings, but nevertheless tied the game, 2-2, at 17:52 when John Madden won a right-circle faceoff to Sopel, who pushed a long shot through traffic and in.

Kane gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the contest, 3-2, at the 2:50 mark of the third period, taking a stretch pass from Jonathan Toews up the middle and scoring stick-side on the forehand.

Only 20 seconds later, Leino was right on the doorstep to slam home the rebound of a failed Giroux opportunity.

NOTES: This was Giroux's first-ever overtime goal, and his three points were his first time on the scoresheet in the series...It was also the Flyers' first overtime win in the Cup Finals since Bobby Clarke scored in Game 2 of the 1974 series against Boston...Briere has five points (2G, 3A) in the Finals...Philadelphia improved to 3-1 in OT during these playoffs, while Chicago fell to 2-1...Chicago had been an NHL-best 7-1 on the road in this postseason, and has won seven in a row away from home prior to Wednesday...Philadelphia upped its home mark to 8-1 and has won six in a row in the Quaker City...Kane's goal was his first point in the series, and Toews' assist on the goal was his first point in the series...The Blackhawks haven't won in a Cup Finals extra session since May 4, 1971, Game 1 of that set against Montreal.

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