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 trade Scott Darling to Hurricanes for draft pick

Blackhawks trade Scott Darling to Hurricanes for draft pick

The Blackhawks have traded goaltender Scott Darling to the Carolina Hurricanes for a third-round draft pick in 2017, the team announced Friday. The third-rounder was previously acquired from the Ottawa Senators.

"We could count on Scott in any situation as he was always reliable," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. "We appreciate his contributions to the Blackhawks organization — including a Stanley Cup Championship team — and we wish him well as he continues his career in Carolina."

In three seasons with Chicago, the 28-year-old Lemont native had a 39-17-9 record with a 2.37 goals against average, .923 save percentage and four shutouts. He was also a key member of the 2015 Stanley Cup-winning team, helping the Blackhawks get out of the first round against the Nashville Predators.

His best year came during the 2016-17 campaign when he set a career high with 18 wins and ranked tied for fifth in the league with a .924 save percentage. He's earned the opportunity to become a full-time starter. It was always unlikely that it would be in his hometown with Corey Crawford under contract through 2019-20, but Friday confirmed that.

"I feel like I've paid my dues as a backup," Darling said at the end of the season. "And when I've had a chance to play in consecutive games I feel like I've shown that I can do it."

He also reflected on his last three years with the Blackhawks "just in case," and had nothing but great things to say about his tenure in Chicago.

"If that does happen, I wouldn't change a second of my time in Chicago," Darling said at the time. "It's been bar-none the best three years of my life. Loved every second. They've been so great to me, my teammates, coaching staff, front office, everybody's been amazing. I wouldn't change a minute."

The Blackhawks will likely look externally for a backup option next season with minor-leaguers Mac Carruth and Lars Johansson due new contracts, and 31-year-old Jeff Glass, who was the No. 3 netminder in the playoffs, having no NHL experience.

The Hurricanes currently own Darling's negotiating rights, and have until July 1 to sign him to an extension when he could hit the market as an unrestricted free agent. Contract talks have not yet started, according to TSN's Pierre LeBrun.

They have two goaltenders (Eddie Lack and Cam Ward) under contract for one more year, meaning a corresponding move could be coming before the expansion draft. One (or both) of them would have to be exposed, assuming Darling signs before then and is protected.

The Blackhawks, who host the NHL Draft from June 23-24, now have 10 draft picks this year: a first, second, fourth, three fifth's, two sixth's and two seventh's.

Blackhawks agree to terms with Nathan Noel on entry-level contract

Blackhawks agree to terms with Nathan Noel on entry-level contract

The Blackhawks strengthened their organizational depth Thursday, announcing the signing of forward Nathan Noel to a three-year entry-level contract that kicks in next season and runs through the 2019-20 campaign. 

Noel, a fourth-round draft pick (No. 113 overall) in 2016, tied a career high with 24 goals — including six game winners — and added 26 assists for 50 points in 52 games during his fourth regular season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was sidelined for a little more than a month in December and January due to an upper-body injury.

The 19-year-old center has raised his game in the postseason, racking up eight goals and 18 assists in 33 games from 2015-17, including six assists in 12 contests so far during the 2017 QMJHL playoffs. Across four years at Saint John, he amassed 208 points (85 goals, 123 assists) in 242 career regular-season games.

Noel is teammates with forward Matthew Highmore, who leads the Sea Dogs in scoring and was signed by the Blackhawks in March to a three-year deal as an undrafted free agent.

Noel is an undersized forward at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, but he's a fast skater with offensive upside. He'll likely start the 2017-18 season in the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs, who desperately needed scoring last year.