Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Claude Giroux’s tally at the 5:59 mark of overtime lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals from Wachovia Center.
The play began with Danny Briere carrying the puck down the left wing. He stopped below the circle, and dished to the point for Matt Carle. The young defenseman’s slap-pass found Giroux in the slot for a deft deflection that managed to trickle through Blackhawks netminder Antti Niemi and in. “I think I won the faceoff and Kimmo (Timonen) passed me in the middle and he passed to Briere on the side, then Carle joined the rush,” Giroux said of the play before his winner. “He’s a great player. He can see the ice pretty well. I was trying to get a stick on it and it trickled in.”Giroux finished with a goal and two assists for the Flyers, who got back in the series after a pair of one-goal defeats in Chicago to start the best-of- seven set and look to tie things up in Game 4 on Friday.Scott Hartnell added a goal and one helper while Ville Leino and Briere also tallied. Michael Leighton stopped 24-of-27 shots for the win by Philadelphia, which had lost seven straight championship-round games dating back to Game 6 of the 1987 Finals against Edmonton.Patrick Kane, Brent Sopel and Duncan Keith tallied for the Blackhawks, who could have taken a near-insurmountable 3-0 series edge with a victory.Niemi yielded four scores on 32 shots in defeat.”This series is far from over, but you can’t really even look ahead until you’re done with Game 4,” admitted Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “We had chances to put the game away and didn’t do it. Rregardless of the score of the series, we’ll keep doing what we’ve been doing and take it from there.”The game-decider came less than a minute after the Flyers thought they had walked away with a key victory. Just after the five-minute mark of the extra session, the home team had a potential game-winner wiped out by replay.Chris Pronger sent a lead pass to the left wing side for Simon Gagne, who pushed the puck into the Chicago zone to Jeff Carter. He dished back to Gagne, whose floater caromed on net. The disc hit the right post and slid all the way to the left side and parallel to the goal line, where Niemi covered up. Although Carter came in late to poke it into the cage, play was ruled to be dead at that point.”For some reason, even after that, when it got disallowed, I had the feeling it was a matter of time,” Briere said of the short sequence before the winner. “Except for one shift early in overtime when they had a bunch of chances, we had control of the play.”The Flyers were awarded the game’s first advantage when Chicago forward Marian Hossa was called for slashing, and Philadelphia cashed in on the back end of the two-minute minor.Stationed in the high slot, Giroux fed to Braydon Coburn for a blast from the right point which Niemi stopped but could not control. Hartnell, while falling in front, pushed the puck across the crease to the left side for Briere, who swept the puck into an open net at 14:58.For Briere, it was his team-best 11th score of the playoffs.”To be honest, I’ve probably scored most of my goals that way. It’s the way I try to handle the puck, I guess,” said Briere. “Most of them have come right around the crease. Once in a while you get a highlight reel goal, but most of them have been ‘get your nose dirty’ type of plays.”Mike Richards missed a golden chance from the right circle with an open net on a power play early in the second period and the Blackhawks responded when Keith’s point drive deflected off the stick of Carter for a 1-1 tie at 2:49.Philly took a 2-1 edge on a man advantage just prior to the midway point of regulation on a play which was reviewed minutes after it occurred. Chris Pronger unleashed a shot from the point which knuckled in on net after a deflection from Hartnell and trickled through Niemi.The puck rolled on edge and was swept away quickly, but a relatively brief review determined that the disc was fully over the line at 9:55.Chicago didn’t convert on a power play with a little more than five minutes to play in the second when Leighton was given a delay-of-game call for pushing his net off the moorings, but nevertheless tied the game, 2-2, at 17:52 when John Madden won a right-circle faceoff to Sopel, who pushed a long shot through traffic and in.Kane gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the contest, 3-2, at the 2:50 mark of the third period, taking a stretch pass from Toews up the middle and scoring stick-side on the forehand.Only 20 seconds later, Leino was right on the doorstep to slam home the rebound of a failed Giroux opportunity.”Maybe we need to improve on coming out of our zone with puck control,” Toews said when asked if Chicago needed to improve in one area. “If we only need to relax with the puck, we’ll be fine. we’re up 2-1, it’s a great situation to be in, but tonight we played against a desperate team. “We need to find ways to keep the pressure on in their zone. we have to protect it better and be more patient.”Game NotesThis was Giroux’s first-ever overtime goal, and his three points were his first time on the scoresheet in the series…It was also the Flyers’ first overtime win in the Cup Finals since Bobby Clarke scored in Game 2 of the 1974 series against Boston…Briere has five points (2G, 3A) in the Finals…Philadelphia improved to 3-1 in OT during these playoffs, while Chicago fell to 2-1…Chicago had been an NHL-best 7-1 on the road in this postseason, and has won seven in a row away from home prior to Wednesday…Philadelphia upped its home mark to 8-1 and has won six in a row in the Quaker City…Kane’s goal was his first point in the series, and Toews’ assist on the goal was his first point in the series…The Blackhawks haven’t won in a Cup Finals extra session since May 4, 1971, Game 1 of that set against Montreal.