CHICAGO — Marian Hossa and Ben Eager scored 28 seconds apart late in the second period, Antti Niemi had 32 saves, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Monday night for a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals.
After a wild scoring display when Chicago won the opener 6-5, Game 2 featured tightened-up defenses with goalies Niemi and Michael Leighton of the Flyers stepping up.
Then the Blackhawks struck quickly, not once but twice, to send the United Center into a frenzy. Chicago has won seven straight playoff games and 10 of 11 to move within two victories of its first Stanley Cup title since 1961.
The Flyers, who are in the finals because of their ability to come from behind as they did in erasing a 3-0 deficit against Boston, got right back in the game when Simon Gagne scored as a power play was about to elapse at 5:20 of the final period.
But Niemi fought off a late flurry — 14 of his saves came in the final period when Philadelphia had a 15-4 shots advantage.
Games 3 and 4 will be played in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Friday.
Patrick Sharp fired a shot from the left circle, and after Leighton stopped it and with Chicago's Troy Brouwer battling for the puck, Hossa poked it in from the left side of the net with 2:51 left in the second. Hossa, in his third straight Stanley Cup finals with a different team, got his third goal of the playoffs and first since May 5 against Vancouver in the conference semifinals.
Just 28 seconds later with the crowd still abuzz, Dustin Byfuglien made a steal and passed the puck to fourth-line forward Eager. Eager skated to the right circle and unleashed a shot that beat Leighton high on the glove side to make it 2-0. It was the first goal of the playoffs for the former Flyers forward.
The Flyers broke through with 1 second left on a power play when Gagne scored from the left circle.
Gagne nearly chipped in a tying rebound about 7 minutes later but was denied by Niemi's pad in close.
Leighton, who was drafted by the Blackhawks and played parts of two seasons for them, got the nod despite being pulled in Game 1 after yielding five goals on 20 shots. He made 24 saves Monday night.
Trying to get more punch, the Flyers inserted forward Daniel Carcillo into the lineup. A scratch the last three games and known for his agitating style, Carcillo was the team leader in playoff penalty minutes (30) entering the game and joined Philadelphia captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on a first line that had been pointless in the opener. He replaced Gagne to start the game — Gagne later returned to the top line — and immediately began to mix things up. He took a run at Chicago's Tomas Kopecky and inadvertently flattened teammate Carter.
The Flyers were called for their first penalty of the series with 5:12 left in the opening period, bringing out a loud roar from the crowd as the Blackhawks went on a power play for the first time in nearly 75 minutes. They couldn't score.
About three minutes later, Chicago went on another power play when there were three penalties called simultaneously — two on the Flyers with Carcillo being sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct.
But the Blackhawks couldn't convert and the first period ended scoreless, quite a contrast from Game 1 when there were five goals in the opening 20 minutes. Outshot 17-9 in the first period of the opener, the Blackhawks had a 9-3 advantage in the rematch.
One of Chicago's best scoring chances came in front of the net as Jonathan Toews tried to punch the puck in before he was wedged out by defenseman Chris Pronger, who then shoved his Olympic teammate into the boards, prompting an angry exchange.
Niemi used his right pad to stop Richards on a breakaway at 7:35 of the second, preserving the scoreless tie. And moments later, Leighton responded with a nice save on Duncan Keith in the slot after a good pass from Sharp.
Niemi then twice made stops on hard shots from Carcillo and another from Richards, but Leighton did the same against Hossa and Dave Bolland. One of Niemi's best stops came with a stretched-out glove save against Arron Asham, prompting chants of "Ant-ti Ant-ti" from the crowd of 22,275.
The Flyers had three leads in the opener, weren't called for a penalty, held Chicago's top line scoreless and still lost, 6-5.
The Blackhawks won for a second straight game without a point from their young stars Toews and Patrick Kane, their leading scorers entering the finals.
The Stanley Cup finals record for home teams that sweep the first two games is 31-2. In 1971, Chicago won the first two games at home but lost to Montreal in seven. In 2009, Detroit won the first two games at home but lost to Pittsburgh in seven. … Flyers LW James van Riemsdyk was scratched along with D Ryan Parent, who played only 41 seconds in the opener.
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