Blackhawks

Swing shift? Flyers capitalize, stun Hawks in OT

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Swing shift? Flyers capitalize, stun Hawks in OT

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

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

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 CSNChicago.com'sBlackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter forup-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.

Anton Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they need

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USA TODAY

Anton Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they need

Anton Forsberg had just finished an extended morning skate Wednesday morning in St. Louis. The backup goaltender had played in one regular-season game for the Blackhawks to that point, so getting in extra work to stay sharp was helpful.

“I try to keep my focus in practice and work extra every day, get a few extra shots in practice with the extra guys who are out there, work with Jimmy and try to keep my game shape,” Forsberg said, referring to Blackhawks goaltending coach Jimmy Waite.

Whatever Forsberg’s working on in practice and skates seems to be working, because in two games with the Blackhawks he’s looked sharp. Forsberg probably deserved a victory on Thursday night when he stopped 40 shots in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers. It’s the backup life to wait and see when that next start will come, but Forsberg has been ready.

“For sure I felt more comfortable today, more used to the speed,” he said following Thursday’s game. “I felt I read the game better, felt I had more time moving around. It’s tough, again, to lose in overtime. Obviously I wanted to win and it’s frustrating.”

Frustrating for sure, but Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they want and need: a dependable backup that gives them a chance to win. The two goals Forsberg gave up on Thursday weren’t softies, either — Patrick Maroon’s goal off a ridiculous Connor McDavid pass and Mark Letestu’s over game-winner that deflected off Brent Seabrook’s stick.

“He kept us in a tight game like he did in Toronto, got us to overtime. I kind of feel bad we didn’t get him a win in either of those,” Ryan Hartman said. “He played well both of those games. It’s nice to have a guy on the back end like that.”

Forsberg has blended in well with the Blackhawks. It helps that he already knew two of them, Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov, his former teammates in Columbus. He and Corey Crawford already have a good rapport. Same goes for he and Waite, and Forsberg has soaked up any information they’ve given him.

“I feel like both him and Corey teach me a lot. We talk about different situations, especially all the reads,” Forsberg said. “I get to know how (Crawford) thinks the game. He’s been around a long time and has been doing well, so it’s interesting every day to hear what he has to say. Even Jimmy’s been around same thing there, discussing my game, what we want to improve, what we want to do different, what to keep the same and go from there.”

The extra work in practices and skates appears to be working as Forsberg has done a lot right in just his first two games, which were 10 days apart. The Blackhawks have had a good run of backup goaltenders; two games is a small sample size but Forsberg could be the latest reliable backup.