June 4, Wachovia Center, Philadelphia
Flyers 5, Blackhawks 3
IT SEEMED AS IF SOMEONE HAD STUCK A NEEDLE IN a Blackhawks voodoo doll before the opening face-off. Maybe it stuck Hjalmarsson, the defenseman who had two pucks knocked off his stick for goals. Maybe it stuck Niemi, the goalie who didn't notice that the Flyers' Giroux was behind him, about to put a puck into an empty net. Maybe it stuck the entire team, which committed three penalties in its offensive zone. In the Flyers' series-squaring victory the Hawks came unglued from the outset. "We were very generous in the first period," said Quenneville. "Certainly the goals were the types we don't generally give up."
Less than five minutes into the game Hjalmarsson was skating through his own zone when the Flyers' Richards sneaked up behind him, lifted Hjalmarsson's stick and in one motion backhanded a shot behind Niemi. The Hawks defenseman still had an APB out for his shorts when his jockstrap was stolen 10 minutes later. Just as Hjalmarsson was about to clear the puck to defuse a Flyers attack, Carle swooped in and slapped it off Hjalmarsson's stick blade and into the net.
After Sharp's long slap shot cut the lead to 2-1 with 1:28 left in the opening period, the Hawks again broke down in their own zone. As Hartnell spun away from Sopel with the puck on the edge of his stick, Toews failed to pick up Giroux, who got behind Niemi and moments later took a pass from Kimmo Timonen and put it into an open net. "That was just stupid," said Toews. "We shouldn't be giving up a goal like that right after we get a big one."
Philadelphia built a 4-1 lead (thanks again to some sloppy Chicago play), and with Pronger dominating the game, the Hawks couldn't get any offense going until the last eight minutes of the third period. First Bolland scored on a five-on-three, and then Brian Campbell tipped one in to cut the lead to 4-3. Chicago kept pressing, forcing Leighton to make a key save on Brent Seabrook with two minutes to play. "The guys were good in front of me all night," said Leighton. "I felt confident, but I had help." The Flyers blocked 28 shots, the Hawks 11.
In the closing minute, with Niemi on the bench, Keith couldn't control a bouncing puck, and the Flyers' Carter scooted down the ice to score the empty-net goal that clinched the win and gave the series a brand-new look.
June 6, United Center, Chicago
Blackhawks 7, Flyers 4