Claude Giroux's OT Goal Gives Flyers Life in the Cup Final
Claude Giroux's goal at 5:59 of overtime off a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing play with Matt Carle and Daniel Briere gave Philadelphia the 4-3 win. On the game-winner, Carle took Briere's pass and slid it toward the goal. Giroux deflected it perfectly past Chicago goalie Antti Niemi as the fans at Wachovia Center erupted.
"This team in here is resilient," said Flyers captain Mike Richards in the victorious home team locker room. "We think we can win no matter what the score is."
The Blackhawks lead the Stanley Cup Final, 2-1. Game 4 is Friday night in Philadelphia.
Giroux's overtime goal came two minutes after the Flyers had a goal waved off by video replay. Chicago forward Dave Bolland inadvertently put the puck off the post and it trickled along the goal line. Replay confirmed the puck never crossed the line.
"It was nice to come back and score right away," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "You think the game is over with the first one. You need to come back and get the goal early like we did."
"We just kept pushing and pushing the play," said Flyers wing Scott Hartnell. "I really liked the way we forced the play in overtime."
Before Giroux's goal, Ville Leino scored the biggest goal of the Flyers' season early in the third. Leino scored the goal to save the Flyers' season at 3:10 of the third period, just 20 seconds after Patrick Kane scored on a breakaway (with a push pass from Jonathan Toews) to give Chicago a 3-2 lead. Before Kane and company finished their celebration on the bench, a shot by Flyers forward Claude Giroux caromed off the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Hendry and right to the stick of Leino, who put it behind goalie Antti Niemi.
"Because of the timing of the goal, right after the Blackhawks took the lead," said Briere, "you'd have to say Ville's goal was one of the most important of the playoffs for us."
On the same night lack of video replay in Major League Baseball cost a Detroit Tigers pitcher a perfect game, the Flyers benefited from the NHL's policy of taking a second look at close calls. At the mid-point of the second period, a shot by Chris Pronger tipped by Scott Hartnell appeared to cross just over the goal line behind Chicago's Antti Niemi. However, referees Bill McCreary and Dan O'Halloran did not signal a goal and play continued for one minute and 42 seconds until the next whistle.
During the stoppage in play, NHL officials ruled that the puck completely crossed the line, "conclusively showed via the overhead camera" according to the league statement. Hartnell was credited with the goal, assisted by Pronger and Claude Giroux, at 9:55.
Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel scored with just over two minutes left in the second period. Sopel scored his first of the postseason after center John Madden cleanly won a faceoff in the Philadelphia zone back to the point.
"I just wanted to get it on net," said Sopel, who scored only one goal in 73 regular season games in 2009-10. "If I can get it on net, a lot of things can happen."
With Giroux's goal, the Flyers and the city of Philadelphia now have hope. (For the record, Flyers grinder Darroll Power retrieved the puck and presented it to Giroux).
"Once we wake up tomorrow morning, we know we have to hold serve on home ice," said Laviolette. "I think the guys will be fine with that."
"This has been a fun ride," said Hartnell, "but we cannot be content. We have to continue to take it to them. We have to tie this series."