PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Relaxed, loose and comfortable down in the series, the resilient Philadelphia Flyers got right back in these Stanley Cup finals.
Mike Richards(notes), Matt Carle(notes) and Claude Giroux(notes) all scored first-period goals and Philadelphia held off Chicago’s late rally to beat the Blackhawks 5-3 in Game 4 on Friday night and even the series at 2.
Game 5 is Sunday night in Chicago, where the Blackhawks won the first two games.
“Not the greatest way that we wanted to finish the game, but I think we have confidence in ourselves with a one-goal lead,” Richards said. “Closed it out when we needed to.”
After losing the first two games, the Flyers have pulled within two wins of their first championship since the second of consecutive titles in 1975.
Now they’ll head back to Chicago. They have to win at least one on the road to carry the Cup.
“I said when we left there… I thought we could have won both games,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “I like our game. I like what we’re doing. It’s going back and forth quick both ways. Guys are really competing out there. But nothing changed for us. Our game hasn’t changed. Just the score changed.”
“We knew that it was going to be a long series and not everything is going to go your way,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews(notes) said. “It would have been good to be up 4-0 by now, but that’s not reality. It’s frustrating, but we have to find a way to battle through things.”
The Flyers, who extended their remarkable run with a historic comeback in the second round against Boston, have not lost beyond Game 3 in any round this postseason.
Game 6 will be back in Philadelphia next Wednesday night.
“We did a lot of good things out there, but it doesn’t mean nothing if you don’t score and we know that,” Toews said.
Trailing 4-1, the Blackhawks won a key faceoff and Dave Bolland(notes) shot one past Leighton on the power play. Then Brian Campbell(notes) cut it to 4-3 when his shot appeared to deflect off Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen’s(notes) stick.
His first goal of the series was upheld after a brief review and it silenced a raucous crowd.
“It was pretty stressful at the end of the game,” Leino said. “But luckily we won.”
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead when their captain, Richards, scored five seconds into a power play.
Carle scored his first goal of the postseason later in the first, wristing a shot from inside the right circle to give the Flyers their first two-goal lead of the series.
But Giroux made it 3-1 just 51 seconds later with his 10th goal of the playoffs. Timonen set it up with a nifty pass to a wide-open Giroux, who was alone at the side of the net. Giroux scored the winner in OT Wednesday night.
“I thought we were generous in the first period on what we gave them as far as goals went,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “We have to be smart and more composed in the discipline area as well.”
Leighton, who was yanked after allowing five goals in the opener, had his best game of the series.
Niemi had 26 saves, though he looked shaky and flustered at times.
NOTES: Vice President Joe Biden was in the crowd. Singer Cyndi Lauper also watched. … The Flyers improved to 9-1 at home in the postseason. … The first four games of the Stanley Cup finals have been decided by one goal twice. … The 29 goals scored in the series so far is the most through four games of the finals since 1981 when the New York Islanders and Minnesota North Stars had 35.