Sun May 30 01:41am EDT
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi(notes) lost his mask twice on shots to the head during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Saturday night. Seeing as how the game was a 6-5 goaltending horror show, it would have been understandable if Niemi requested a few more to help erase his memories of this professional pond hockey game.
Coming up, a look at all 11 goals scored by the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1, which was the highest-scoring Stanley Cup Finals game in the Windy City since ... well, since the last one in 1992 when the Blackhawks lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-5.
Incredible as it may seem, this game was actually scoreless at one point. At least until this got the Flyers on the board:
The first of many good plays by Danny Briere in the game, keeping the puck from leaving the zone with a bank pass to Ville Leino, who sent a shot off Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson(notes) and into the net.
The Flyers were 7-1 in the postseason when scoring first. Their lead would last 1:08.
A complete breakdown by the Flyers' defense. Ryan Parent(notes), on his only shift of the night, drops his stick in the corner, leading to four Philadelphia players collapsing around goalie Michael Leighton(notes). That gave Chicago power-play-like room at the top of the zone, and Marian Hossa found Troy Bouwer for the one-timer to tie it.
Braydon Coburn(notes) had a rather putrid night, with a minus-3 and this fumble on the power-play point that sent Dave Bolland off to the shorthanded races. It was a goal Leighton should have had but a save he shouldn't have had to make.
Chris Pronger played 32:21 on the night and 5:55 on the power play because of that howitzer on the blue line. His shot set up the rebound chance for Hartnell, who potted his fourth of the playoffs. Traffic around Niemi is going to be a key in this series, and the Flyers had it on this one.
Flyers, 3-2 - 19:33, Danny Briere 10 (Ville Leino, Scott Hartnell)
Good shot from Briere, but another Niemi rebound that caused chaos in front of the crease. The Toews/Kane line couldn't locate the puck; Briere could, and scored his 10th of the playoffs.
That closed out the first period scoring. In the second ...
Two really nice plays on this goal. First was Hjalmarsson's winning a battle in the defensive zone and sending a pass that broke out Patrick Sharp on an odd-man rush. The second was Sharp using Marian Hossa as an effective decoy before blasting a shot past a helpless Leighton. Matt Carle's(notes) attempt at a poke check late in the play was a strange decision that didn't exactly bail out his keeper.
Because this game wasn't bizarre enough yet, fourth-line specialist Blair Betts morphed into Brett Hull for a moment and rocketed a shot past Niemi for the tie. His last postseason goal? April 24, 2006.
Tied, 4-4 - 9:31, Kris Versteeg 5 (Tomas Kopecky, Duncan Keith)
That Flyers' lead lasted. 2:11, as Tomas Kopecky(notes) -- a summer free-agent acquisition in the lineup for the injured Andrew Ladd(notes) -- again victimized Carle to find Kris Versteeg(notes) in front for the tie.
Blackhawks, 5-4 - 15:18, Troy Brouwer 4 (Marian Hossa, Niklas Hjalmarsson)
Hossa's second great assist of the night gave Chicago the lead and chased Leighton to the Flyers' bench. Another bit of bad coverage there for Philly, as two players both converged on Hossa and Patrick Sharp in front of the crease, leaving Brouwer open for the shot.
Tied, 5-5 - Arron Asham 4 (Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell)
The final goal of the second period evened things up. With Keith and Seabrook unable to locate the bounding puck, Arron Asham continued his impressive offensive show in the postseason with a blast through Niemi. The play was set up by Briere's great puck control, completing a 4-point night that moved him ahead of Mike Richards for the team lead in points.
But in the third period, Chicago would go ahead one more time and for the last time.
Blackhawks, 6-5 - Tomas Kopecky 4 (Kris Versteeg, Dave Bolland)
Seabrook's diving keep on the play is the big highlight, but the patience of Kopecky on this goal was outstanding. He drew Boucher out and tucked the shot past him.
You couldn't see it on this replay, but the NBC announcers talked about the puck hitting the Chicago bench before the goal on a missed call by the refs. From the Globe & Mail:
Some thought the goal should not have been allowed because play should have been stopped earlier when the puck hit Kopecky when he was sitting on the boards at the Chicago bench, waiting to jump on the ice. But play continued and Kopecky came off the bench to score.
Head coach Peter Laviolette and the rest of the Flyers did not see the contact and afterward Laviolette said there was no use crying about it now. "If a puck hits a player on the bench it should be whistled down," he said. "But that's neither here nor there. They scored."
And scored. And scored. And scored and scored and ...
Quite a memorable opening game between these teams. The Blackhawks will likely course correct to the tune of stifling defense in Game 2; will the Flyers reel it in too or play the aggressive style that worked well at times in Game 1 but also left their goalie exposed at times as well?