Swing shift? Flyers capitalize, stun Hawks in OT


Swing shift? Flyers capitalize, stun Hawks in OT

Thursday, June 3, 2010
Updated: 12:49 AM

By Brett Ballantini

PHILADELPHIA In a series thats been marked by momentum shifts, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final was decided by the ultimate momentum shifter, an overtime goal.&8232;&8232; Claude Girouxs tally at 5:59 of overtime sealed a 4-3 win for the Philadelphia Flyers, drawing them to within 2-1 in their Stanley Cup Finals series with Chicago and snapping the Blackhawks nine-game postseason win streak.

Weve struggled with the past two third periods, Chicago defenseman Brent Sopel said. We need to handle the next shift after a score much better. But overall, were fine.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was similarly sunny despite the nail-biting setback.

We were pretty effective for the first 40 minutes, he said. We were pretty good at the start of the third, when we scored. Then they scored in the following shift. I thought we lost a lot of momentum there.

The first Stanley Cup Finals game in Philadelphia in more than a decade was plum bananas, filled with big hits and a ton of back-and-forth action.

The Flyers notched their loveliest goal of the Finals when Scott Hartnell pirouetted an Antti Niemi rebound across the slot while crashing to the ice, delivering a juicy pass to Danny Briere for the centers 11th goal of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks headed out of the first intermission determined to change the tone of game, which found them unable to answer to Philadelphias aggression and tempo. And just 2:49 in, thats just what they did, with a consummate Chicago score. Patrick Sharp battled hard behind the net to preserve possession, leaving Marian Hossa to take a shift with the puck and continue battling. Hossa released the puck to Patrick Kane, who found Duncan Keith for a screamer that tied the tame.

Philadelphia would strike back with its second power play of the game, this time a Hartnell redirect of a Chris Pronger shot, one that was only officially awarded to the Flyers after video review.

Down 2-1 and with time running short in the second, Sopel fooled Flyers goalie Michael Leighton with a one-timer to that tied the game heading into the second intermission.

Kane, who had been battling the lengthiest goalless streak of his postseason career, gave Chicago its first lead of the night at 2:50 into the third, Jonathan Toews hitting Crazy 88 on a fly pattern that led to a breakaway goal that Leighton had no chance of stopping.

But just 20 seconds later Niemi left a rebound pinball away, and Ville Leino cashed in the disc in a clear case of rookie-on-rookie violence. Philly controlled play after that, recording 11 of the first 12 shots in the game after Kanes breakaway. Late in the period, the Blackhawks put together an outstanding shift, centered by Dave Bolland, that put continuous pressure on Leighton.

Despite the loss, Chicago is putting Game 3 in perspective and appears determine to tweak its game and correct any mistakes that saw them falling short on Wednesday.

Its easy to forget how thin a line between a win and a loss is, Blackhawks forward Tomas Kopecky said. Its one game, no panic. We have to get it back on Friday.

Its tough to lose, but at the same time, weve got another game, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. We like our position. Were not happy about tonight, but weve got another game, and hopefully we can be better.

Brett Ballantini is'sBlackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter forup-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

The last time the Blackhawks were in Winnipeg they exploded for three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory on Dec. 14.

The roles were reversed on Thursday.

It appeared the Blackhawks might be headed for another drubbing when Brandon Saad scored 11 seconds into the game and they were awarded an ensuing power play following a failed offside challenge by the home team, but the Jets killed it off then responded with five unanswered goals over the next 11:53 and didn't look back as Chicago lost 6-2.

Anton Forsberg was pulled for the sixth time in his 27th start this season after allowing three goals on six shots, while J-F Berube gave up two goals on his first five shots before stopping 27 straight. It was the 14th time the Blackhawks allowed five or more goals in a game this season, having done that only eight times last season.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster in goal as of late.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks aren't as optimistic about Corey Crawford returning before the season ends and maybe that's for the better.

But there's a big question mark between the pipes when you factor in Crawford's health and the inconsistency from their backups, which has included Jeff Glass, Forsberg and Berube.

The Blackhawks weren't expecting Forsberg to be the next Scott Darling when they included him in the trade package involving Saad and Artemi Panarin this past offseason, but they were certainly hoping he would be around the league average in save percentage (.913).

Instead, it's slipped to .905, which ranks 43rd of 52 goaltenders that have started at least 20 games this season. That's also his 5-on-5 save percentage, which is 49th out of 52 among goalies with 800-plus minutes of ice time.

When it rains, it often pours with Forsberg in net and he hasn't shown signs of progression to prevent the bleeding from getting worse.

The backup goaltending position is more important than ever in this day and age, especially for the Blackhawks with Crawford likely going into next year having not faced a shot in game action in nine months.

For those reasons, it might be wise for the Blackhawks to strongly consider rolling with Berube as the No. 2 to at least start next season if an external option isn't the preferred direction.

It would allow Forsberg to fine-tune his mechanics, build his confidence and continue his overall development with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, where he backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to their first ever Calder Cup championship in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history two years ago.

Berube and Forsberg are both under contract for the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and it's no secret there's a belief within the organization that Forsberg has a higher ceiling. He just hasn't been able to reach it yet in the NHL for whatever reason.

There are 11 games left, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Berube get more than half of those.

Yes, his save percentage is one percentage point below Forsberg's at .904. But three of his eight appearances have come in relief.

In his five starts, he has a .908 percentage; in his three relief appearances, it's at .893.

Berube deserves a longer look, one that could carry weight when determining next season's backup.