Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Michael Leighton turned in a 32-save performance and a three-goal first period helped Philadelphia survive a late Chicago rush to take a 5-3 win in Game 4 and even the Stanley Cup Finals.
Chicago took Games 1 and 2 in the Windy City, but the Flyers returned to the City of Brotherly Love to even the series with Wednesday’s 4-3 win in Game 3 courtesy of Claude Giroux’s overtime goal and Friday’s victory.
Mike Richards, Matt Carle, Giroux and Ville Leino each lit the lamp for the Flyers, who have won seven straight at home after a Game 3 loss to Boston in the semifinals. Leino’s goal in the third period proved to be the game-winner while Jeff Carter’s empty-netter sealed the win.
“I like our game and I like what we’re doing,” said Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette. “In saying that, they probably thought they could have won Game 3. It’s going back and forth quick both ways. Guys are competing really hard out there.”
Brian Campbell, Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp each notched a goal while Antti Niemi stopped 26-of-30 shots for the Blackhawks, who will look to grab the series lead back on Sunday in Game 5 at the United Center. Duncan Keith tallied three assists in the loss.
“We were very generous in the first period in what we gave them,” said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. “We’ve gotta be smarter and more composed in the discipline area as well.”
Holding a 3-1 lead, Leighton made a nice save on Keith’s blast with traffic in front about 4 1/2 minutes into the third and the Flyers made it a three-goal game a bit later.
Leino took a feed from Danny Briere in the neutral zone and skated in down the right wing. He then cut to the front and sent a shot on net that was going wide, but it hit off of Kris Versteeg and floated over Niemi at the 6:43 mark.
The Flyers got a power play at the 8:03 mark when Brent Seabrook was called for cross checking and generated several chances, but Niemi came up with the stops to keep the game from getting out of hand.
Skating with a 5-on-3 advantage after penalties to Scott Hartnell and Braydon Coburn, the Blackhawks made it a two-goal game as Keith sent a slap-pass from the right circle to the low left side where Bolland redirected it in with 7:59 to play.
With 4:10 to play, Chicago cut its deficit to one. Campbell led a rush into the Philadelphia zone and threw the puck on net from the left boards. It hit off the stick of Kimmo Timonen and trickled past Leighton as Timonen and Jonathan Toews were tussling in front.
“I’m not really sure what happened with the last goal but it looked like they had some pressure in front of the net,” said Laviolette. “I thought we settled down after that cause they had only one real good chance the rest of the way.”
The Blackhawks continued to apply pressure and Keith threw a shot on net that hit off the skate of Coburn, but it trickled just wide of the net with under two minutes to play.
Niemi headed to the bench for the extra attacker shortly after, but Carter’s empty-netter with 24.6 seconds to play sealed the win.
The Flyers had the first power-play opportunity of the game when Andrew Ladd was called for interference just 36 seconds in. The best chance came when Richards centered the puck with Leino in front, but the Flyers were unable to find the back of the net.
A few minutes later, Niemi made a nice save on a blast by Carter, and Leighton followed with a stick save on a point blank shot from Patrick Kane.
Shortly after the save on Kane, Tomas Kopecky was called for high sticking and the Flyers struck just five seconds after the call. After losing the right circle faceoff, Richards stole the puck off of Niklas Hjalmarsson behind the net and threw a quick backhander from the left side that found its way past Niemi at the 4:35 mark. It was Richards’ first goal of the series.
Chicago got a power play with 11:44 left in the first when Timonen was called for hooking, but the Flyers’ penalty killing unit kept the chances to a minimum. Leighton made a pad save on a Campbell blast near the end of the advantage.
Then with 5:12 to play in the frame, the Flyers made it a 2-0 game. James van Riemsdyk had the puck behind the net and sent it out front for Giroux, who threw a turnaround shot on net. The shot never made it to Niemi and Hjalmarsson tried to clear it, but the puck went to Carle in the slot and he buried it for his first goal of the playoffs.
Chicago made it a one-goal game with 1:28 to play in the frame as Keith kept in a clearing attempt at the right point and fed it over to the high slot for Sharp, whose blast hit a stick in front and got past Leighton.
Philadelphia, though, got the goal back just 51 seconds later to restore the two-goal edge. Hartnell had the puck at the left boards and sent it high for Timonen, who took a stride down and dished the puck to the left side where a wide-open Giroux deposited it into the empty net.
Philly got a power play 1:27 into the second when Bolland was called for high sticking, but it was ineffective as the team was unable to generate any solid opportunities.
Leighton made a nice stop on a Versteeg redirection at the 6:54 mark of the second to keep it a two-goal game. A few minutes later, Richards attempted a quick wraparound from the right side, but Niemi was able to make the stop and cover up the rebound.
With around 8 1/2 minutes left in the second, Chicago nearly got one into the net as the puck was sitting on the doorstep with several bodies in front, but Leighton was able to cover the puck.
Leighton again came up big as a turnover in Philadelphia’s end resulted in Marian Hossa getting a shot on net, but Leighton turned it aside, and a slashing call against Sharp moments later gave the Flyers their fourth power play of the game with 7:07 to play in the second.
However, the two minutes passed without any significant opportunities, as the Chicago penalty killers were efficient in keeping the Flyers and the puck away from Niemi.
Vice President Joe Biden and his wife were in attendance for the game…The second period was only the second scoreless period of the series…Leino has seven goals and 16 points in the playoffs, both of which are Philly rookie records…Philly went 1-for-6 on the power play and has notched a power-play goal in every game of the series…Chicago went 1-for-3 on the power play. It was the first time in the series the ‘Hawks scored on the power play…Each team made lineup changes for the game, as Chicago dressed Ladd, who missed the first three games with an upper body injury, and defenseman Nick Boynton while scratching defenseman Jordan Hendry and right wing Adam Burish. Philadelphia inserted forward van Riemsdyk into the lineup and benched forward Daniel Carcillo, who had taken van Riemsdyk’s spot for Games 2 and 3…The Flyers improved to 9-1 on home ice in the playoffs, while Chicago fell to 7-3 on the road this postseason…Philly is 13-6 all-time when a series is tied 2-2, while Chicago is 13-18 when splitting the first four games of a playoff series.