(Sports Network) - After losing an offensive battle in the opener, the Philadelphia Flyers will try to bounce back tonight, when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals at United Center .
The best-of-seven series kicked off Saturday night in Chicago and the Western Conference champion Blackhawks won a wild 6-5 decision to take the early lead. Neither team held more than a one-goal lead in the back-and-forth affair, but Chicago forward Tomas Kopecky scored the lone goal of the third period to lead his team to victory.
Kopecky supplied the game-winning goal 8:25 into the third period, scoring off a feed from Kris Versteeg. Kopecky was filling in for the injured Andrew Ladd, who is questionable again tonight with an upper-body issue.
Troy Brouwer registered two goals and one assist for the Blackhawks, who are in the Cup Finals for the first time since 1992. Chicago last won the Cup in 1961, giving the Hawks the longest current championship drought in the NHL.
Saturday's victory was the first in the Stanley Cup Finals for Chicago since posting an 8-7 decision against Montreal on May 8, 1973.
"The first period, physically was a little jittery for both teams," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "More so us, and even in the second I still think we were a little bit more emotional than we normally are. And then all of a sudden we picked up the tempo, and pace that we wanted to set and continue. That's the standard we want to move on going forward to the next game."
Danny Briere had a goal and three assists and Scott Hartnell added a goal with two assists for Philadelphia, which has overcome a bevy of obstacles to reach the Cup Finals for the first time in 13 years. The Flyers haven't won it all since 1975 and, like Chicago, Philadelphia has been defeated in each of its last five trips to the Cup Finals.
Michael Leighton, drafted by Chicago in 1999, didn't get much help from a leaky Flyers' defense and was pulled in the second period after allowing five goals on 20 shots.
"I'm totally disappointed in the way I played," Leighton said. "I felt all right. Every time they had a good chance they scored."
Brian Boucher made 11 saves the rest of the way but allowed the decisive tally in his first action since injuring both knees in Game 5 of the semifinals against Boston on May 10. Leighton will get the start again tonight for the Flyers.
"We've got to be a little bit better defensively than we were," Laviolette admitted. "It wasn't a lot of chances. It was probably a dozen chances for them. But some of them were point blank. We have to tighten it up right in front of our goal."
One of the biggest storylines heading into this series concerned the excellent postseason play of both teams' young captains, but neither Chicago's Jonathan Toews nor Philadelphia's Mike Richards had a night to remember on Saturday. Toews, who is leading the NHL with 26 points this playoff year, failed to register a point and was also a minus-3 in Game 1. Richards, who has 21 points in this postseason, had zero points and a minus-2 rating in the opener.
The Blackhawks are 6-3 as the host in the playoffs after going 29-8-4 in the Windy City during the regular season. Philadelphia had a sub-par 17-21-3 road mark this year, and is 5-5 as the road team in the postseason.
The Flyers will host the next two games of this series, including Game 3 on Wednesday night.
Philly and the Blackhawks faced each other just once this year, but the third period of that regular-season battle was hinted at the type of offensive showcase that unfolded in Game 1. The Flyers pulled out a 3-2 home victory over the 'Hawks on March 13 and all five goals came in the third period.
The only playoff meeting between Chicago and Philadelphia was in the 1971 quarterfinals, a series that was swept by the Blackhawks.