It’s starting to become the series many thought it would be. Facing the possibility of going down 3-0 in the series, the Flyers held serve Wednesday night and won their first home game of the Finals 4-3 in overtime.
After regulation goals from Duncan Keith (on a cross-ice one-timer from the top of the circles), Brent Sopel (courtesy of a one-timer right off a face-off in the Philadelphia zone) and Patrick Kane (on a wrist shot while in alone), the Hawks turned the tide in overtime, dominating the fourth frame’s first minutes. However, a neutral zone face-off found both third lines on the ice. Not wanting to waste his checking line’s energy, Joel Quenneville called for a line change – just not like the one that ultimately unfolded.
Even though the Flyers won the face-off clean, Tomas Kopecky and Kris Versteeg immediately headed to the bench – Kopecky from across the ice. Dave Bolland felt the oncoming pressure and stayed. What ensued was an old-fashioned 5-on-3 down the ice. Each of the three Hawks back – Bolland, Keith and Brent Seabrook – got caught watching the puck, which went back to the point man once the Flyers gained the zone. As Matt Carle wound up for a quick snapper to the net, Claude Giroux and Aaron Asham slipped past Keith and Seabrook, and Carle’s shot found Giroux’s stick on its way past Antti Niemi.
As promised, it’s a series.
Come On Up
– Fingers will be pointed in the wake of the first Hawks’ loss in seven games. Was it Quenneville’s fault for calling the change heard ‘round the world? Was it Kopecky’s fault for exiting stage right while the Flyers were kicking the puck up ice? Either way, it’s a good example of why home field/ice matters in hockey maybe more than other sports. Had Coach Q held the right to change last, of course, he would not have had the need to change out of the match-up so quickly.
Ultimately, though, the forwards cannot change while the other team has control in the neutral zone. It’s just that simple. Maybe Q needs to get more comfortable with another line or two playing against the Richards line.
– The Hawks have made a living of one-upping opponents during the past month. Each time Vancouver, San Jose or Philadelphia took a step forward against the Hawks during that time span, the Hawks took a larger one in the moments that followed. Not Wednesday. In fact, it was Philly that played the one-upper role, as the Flyers responded to the Hawks taking their only lead of the night by promptly tying the game 20 seconds later in the third.
– Say what you want about Chris Pronger, but he’s been an absolute force this series, and in particular, last night. None of the Hawk goals came while Pronger was on the ice, but #20 was front-row-center for three of the four Flyer tallies, including one on the power play. On the flip-side, the Hawks picked on the Coburn pairing; Coburn was a -3.
– If you had a nickel for each time the Hawks fed the Flyers’ pointmen last night, you’re well on your way to a $5 footlong today. Not only was the defensive zone coverage hit or miss last night, the Hawks were routinely unable to hoist pucks out of the zone or make a worthwhile breakout pass once they recovered. The result was plenty of second, third and fourth chances.
– Has Chris Pronger ever allowed someone to skate near him behind the play without slashing the player? Not that I’ve seen. Perhaps it’s something Q should casually mention this afternoon.
– Taking a bird’s eye view, Wednesday’s game was settled on the power play. The Hawks went 0-for-3 on the man advantage, and the Flyers scored twice on their three power plays.