Flyers' Giroux sinks Blackhawks in OT
Claude Giroux had a friend from back home in northern Ontario text him on Wednesday afternoon. The message from Luc Deschamps of Mattice, Ont., told his buddy that he had a feeling he would score the overtime winner.
A few hours later the 22-year-old kid from Hearst, Ont., did just that to make a series out of the 2010 Stanley Cup final.
He tipped in a shot from defenceman Matt Carle 5:59 into the extra period for a 4-3 Flyers' win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
The victory, before a record crowd of 20,291 at the Wachovia Center, meant Chicago's lead had been cut to 2-1 with Game 4 back in Philly on Friday evening (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. ET).
"I was taking a nap, and my buddy texted me," Giroux said. "He said I have a feeling you're going to score the overtime winner [Wednesday] tonight. I texted back and said 'You're crazy.'
"I'm going to call him now. It's obviously a big goal. It's probably the biggest goal in my career."
Yup, the Flyers fanatics certainly know Giroux's name now. It was four years ago when then Flyers general manager Bob Clarke walked up to the podium and forgot Giroux's name at the NHL entry draft. He had to turn and ask his scout on the stage, "What's his name again?"
"No, we didn't," said Giroux, when asked on Wednesday whether he and Clarke ever had talked about that faux pas. "I don't know if he even remembers that, but I didn't really care. I thought it was pretty funny."
The first two games for Giroux of this series in Chicago were not a laughing matter. He went pointless and was a minus-3. When the Flyers returned to Philadelphia, head coach Peter Laviolette had a chat with his young third-line centre.
"You have to remember it's the Stanley Cup final," Laviolette said. "He came in, we talked about it, to just lighten up a little bit.
"We talked about just having some fun tonight, come out and let everything roll … I think he took that advice because he was smiling all day. He came to the rink, went out and played a great game."
Stellar home mark
The Flyers win improved their home record in the 2010 playoffs to an impressive 8-1 and snapped the Blackhawks' seven-game win streak. This was the third consecutive one-goal decision between the two teams.
"I thought it could have gone either way," said Chicago defenceman Duncan Keith, who tied the game early in the second period at 1-1 after Philadelphia's Danny Briere scored on the power play for the only goal of the first period.
The Flyers are a resilient bunch. They battled all regular season and needed a shootout win against the New York Rangers in the 82nd game to sneak into the playoffs. They also became only the third team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series, when they stormed back to beat the Boston Bruins in the second round.
The Flyers looked down and out late in the second period and early in the third when Chicago defenceman Brent Sopel scored his first playoff goal in seven years to tie the game and Patrick Kane scored on a breakaway for a 3-2 advantage.
The Sopel goal was difficult to take for the Flyers because they had their top line of Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter out against Chicago's fourth line and fourth and fifth defenceman. But Blackhawks centre John Madden beat Richards cleanly on the draw for Sopel's screen shot that beat Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton.
"Like I said this morning, 2-0 for us is comfortable," Laviolette said. "We're OK with that. We know how to battle through it."
Flyers forward Ville Leino tied the game 20 seconds after the Kane goal with a rebound. It was the sixth goal of the playoffs for the unheralded Finn, who was a mid-season pickup in a minor deal with the Detroit Red Wings for defenceman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen.
Leino plays on a line with Briere and Scott Hartnell, who deflected in a Chris Pronger shot on the power play in the second period for the Flyers fourth man-advantage goal in the series to the Blackhawks' 0-for-6. Each member of the Briere line scored for the Flyers on Wednesday.
"They were dominating at times," Laviolette said. "They seem to be on their game right now. Offensively, they're getting a lot of looks, a lot of chances."
So was Giroux for the first time in the series. Wonder what his pal Deschamps thinks will happen on Friday?