Blackhawks Beat Flyers in Highest-Scoring Final Game in 18 Years
Fittingly, a player who had been a healthy scratch for Chicago's previous five games came out of the press box to score the game-winner. Tomas Kopecky, in the lineup because of an injury to Andrew Ladd, scored at 8:25 of the third period to give the Blackhawks a 6-5 lead.
"We lost Ladd, but Kopey came in and played an amazing game and scored the biggest goal," said Blackhawks center Dave Bolland. "That's what you get with deep rosters."
Kopecky's game-winner came off a superb, if off-balance effort by defenseman Brent Seabrook to keep the puck in the Flyers' zone. Chicago center Dave Bolland picked up the puck and set a cross-ice pass to Kopecky, who waited out replacement goalie Brian Boucher's first move and slid the puck behind him as more than 22,000 fans at the United Center erupted.
You wonder why the home crowd had any reason to believe Kopecky's goal would be the last of the game.
The 5-5 score at the end of the second period was enough to make this (at the time) the highest-scoring Stanley Cup Final game in 10 years. New Jersey beat Dallas 7-3 in Game 1 of the Final in 2000.
Asked if he could believe he was in a shootout in the oft-tight Stanley Cup Final, Blackhawks wing Patrick Sharp said, "I looked at the scoreboard and it said 4-3. I was thinking this was unreal. This is what happens with two skilled teams playing with a lot of emotion. I doubt every game will be like this. This might be the only one."
Ten goals were scored on 50 shots between the two teams through two periods. No lead lasted longer than five minutes. Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final took the spirit of a Lakers-Suns game. Every time the Blackhawks or Flyers moved the puck past center ice, you expected them to score. The vaunted Chicago first line of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien were a combined minus-9 through two periods.
Ville Leino, Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere (his 10th of the playoffs) and Blair Betts scored for Philadelphia. Brouwer, Bolland, Patrick Sharp and Kris Versteeg tallied for Chicago. Blackhawks netminder Antti Niemi, who starred in Chicago's run through the Western Conference Final, was ineffective until the third period.
"As unsteady as our play may have been," said Versteeg, "the positive was that we never felt like we were out of the game. We never lost confidence we could get the tying goal. The Flyers probably felt the same way, too."
Mike Richards lamented the Flyers' ability to hold the lead. "We would put ourselves in good positions then we would have a mental lapse defensively. I don't know if it was nerves or we were trying to do too much. We are going to have to look at a few things and move on."
While Boucher warmed up with a few saves, showing little rust for a goalie recovering from a pair of knee sprains, Arron Asham tied the game for Philadelphia with just over a minute left in the second. Laviolette was riding a hot hand with craft coaching moves. With the Flyers trailing Boston by a 3-0 score in the first period of Game 7 of the second round, Laviolette utilized his timeout and implored his team to score a goal by the end of the period. The Flyers did and went on to win the game.
No such luck on Saturday in Chicago.