Swing shift? Flyers capitalize, stun Hawks in OT

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Swing shift? Flyers capitalize, stun Hawks in OT

Thursday, June 3, 2010
Updated: 12:49 AM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

PHILADELPHIA In a series thats been marked by momentum shifts, Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final was decided by the ultimate momentum shifter, an overtime goal.&8232;&8232; Claude Girouxs tally at 5:59 of overtime sealed a 4-3 win for the Philadelphia Flyers, drawing them to within 2-1 in their Stanley Cup Finals series with Chicago and snapping the Blackhawks nine-game postseason win streak.

Weve struggled with the past two third periods, Chicago defenseman Brent Sopel said. We need to handle the next shift after a score much better. But overall, were fine.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was similarly sunny despite the nail-biting setback.

We were pretty effective for the first 40 minutes, he said. We were pretty good at the start of the third, when we scored. Then they scored in the following shift. I thought we lost a lot of momentum there.

The first Stanley Cup Finals game in Philadelphia in more than a decade was plum bananas, filled with big hits and a ton of back-and-forth action.

The Flyers notched their loveliest goal of the Finals when Scott Hartnell pirouetted an Antti Niemi rebound across the slot while crashing to the ice, delivering a juicy pass to Danny Briere for the centers 11th goal of the playoffs.

The Blackhawks headed out of the first intermission determined to change the tone of game, which found them unable to answer to Philadelphias aggression and tempo. And just 2:49 in, thats just what they did, with a consummate Chicago score. Patrick Sharp battled hard behind the net to preserve possession, leaving Marian Hossa to take a shift with the puck and continue battling. Hossa released the puck to Patrick Kane, who found Duncan Keith for a screamer that tied the tame.

Philadelphia would strike back with its second power play of the game, this time a Hartnell redirect of a Chris Pronger shot, one that was only officially awarded to the Flyers after video review.

Down 2-1 and with time running short in the second, Sopel fooled Flyers goalie Michael Leighton with a one-timer to that tied the game heading into the second intermission.

Kane, who had been battling the lengthiest goalless streak of his postseason career, gave Chicago its first lead of the night at 2:50 into the third, Jonathan Toews hitting Crazy 88 on a fly pattern that led to a breakaway goal that Leighton had no chance of stopping.

But just 20 seconds later Niemi left a rebound pinball away, and Ville Leino cashed in the disc in a clear case of rookie-on-rookie violence. Philly controlled play after that, recording 11 of the first 12 shots in the game after Kanes breakaway. Late in the period, the Blackhawks put together an outstanding shift, centered by Dave Bolland, that put continuous pressure on Leighton.

Despite the loss, Chicago is putting Game 3 in perspective and appears determine to tweak its game and correct any mistakes that saw them falling short on Wednesday.

Its easy to forget how thin a line between a win and a loss is, Blackhawks forward Tomas Kopecky said. Its one game, no panic. We have to get it back on Friday.

Its tough to lose, but at the same time, weve got another game, Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. We like our position. Were not happy about tonight, but weve got another game, and hopefully we can be better.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com'sBlackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter forup-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

When the Blackhawks traded to get Brandon Saad back, they also acquired Anton Forsberg, who they believe is ready to be their latest backup goaltender. On Monday they signed him to a two-year deal.

The Blackhawks inked two players on Monday, Forsberg, whose contract runs through the 2018-19 season, and Tomas Jurco, who agreed to a one-year contract extension.

Forsberg joins the Blackhawks having very little NHL experience – he’s played 10 career games at this level, going 1-8-0. But the Blackhawks’ previous two backup goaltenders, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling, hadn’t made an NHL appearance before joining the Blackhawks. Forsberg led the Cleveland Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL-affiliate team, to a Calder Cup title in 2016; during that run he went 9-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

On Friday, when the Blackhawks acquired Saad and Forsberg from Columbus for Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte, general manager Stan Bowman said the team is, “optimistic about Anton’s potential.”

“We like his profile as a goalie,” he said. “He’s a big guy, takes up a lot of net, has that mobility and makes good positional saves as well as athletic saves. A year ago, led his team to the [Calder] Cup championships, so he knows what it’s like to put a team on his back. It was the AHL but he’s had a lot of success there. He’s earned the right to be an NHL goalie.”

Jurco, acquired by the Blackhawks from Detroit in February, played 13 games with them down the regular-season stretch. Bowman said shortly after the trade that Jurco would get a chance here.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” he said. “I think a lot of ways, sometimes guys need different opportunities. It doesn’t work out in every place. A fresh start will be great for Tomas.”

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”