PHILADELPHIA — Mike Richards, Matt Carle and Claude Giroux all scored first-period goals and the Philadelphia Flyers hung on to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 on Friday night to even the Stanley Cup finals at 2-all.
Game 5 is Sunday night in Chicago.
Jeff Carter scored an empty-netter in the final seconds to help the Flyers become the first team this series to win a game by more than one goal. The Flyers, trying to win their first title since 1975, nearly let the win slip away in the third.
Leading 4-1 early in the period, Chicago's Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell scored late goals to slice the deficit to one.
The home team has won all four games this series — a factor that certainly favors the Blackhawks in Game 5.
Ville Leino also scored for the Flyers.
After the Blackhawks won a key faceoff, Bolland sent one past Michael Leighton for Chicago's first power-play goal of the game. They entered 0-for-6 and went 1-for-3 in Game 4.
The goal energized the Blackhawks. They didn't look beat down from having to rally and fight the Flyers for most of the first 60 minutes.
Campbell made it 4-3 when his shot appeared to deflect off Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen's stick, and silenced the Flyers crowd. His first goal of the series was upheld after a brief review and gave the Blackhawks a glimmer of hope for a monster upset.
It was just too late.
Chicago pulled Antti Niemi for the man-advantage but Carter slid in the empty-netter and tense crowd exhaled and celebrated.
Now it's off to Chicago.
Philadelphia hadn't held a two-goal lead in the final all series until the first period
Richards, the Flyers captain, had been as quiet on the ice in the final as he can be with the press.
His first goal of the final was a memorable one. Richards chased Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson from behind the net and struck with a quick steal. His backhanded flip toward the net stunned Niemi for his seventh goal of the playoffs and a 1-0 lead only 4:35 into the game.
In a series where goals were exchanged like the final was played at a swap meet, the Flyers got a rare cushion late in the period. Carle scored his first goal of the postseason, when he buried a rebound from inside the right circle.
Flyers fans started their derisive "An-tti! An-tti!" chants toward the beleaguered goalie.
Yes, a pair of big market teams are a huge reason why this series has done record ratings for the NHL. But this series has looked like Olympic speedskating with sticks. The early dynamic pace left fans needing to catch their breath.
Sharp had his goal deflected by Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn to make it 2-1.
Giroux, who scored the Game 3 overtime winner, swung the momentum back toward Philly when he scored with 36.3 seconds left. He was all alone near the net and punched into a wide open net. He shook his head like he couldn't believe how easy it was.
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