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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Patrick Kane's goal 4:10 into overtime lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers to take a deciding Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Kane shot from a sharp angle along the left wing, and managed to sneak a low shot through Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton, touching off a wild celebration by the visitors, who claimed their first championship since 1961.
Philadelphia put up a valiant fight, tying the game with 3:59 left in regulation when Scott Hartnell notched his second goal of the contest as he managed to get his stick on a loose puck in the low slot. The Flyers had the best of the early chances in overtime, but Chicago ultimately proved to be the fresher club and capitalized on the final break.
Kane added two assists, while Dustin Byfuglien, Patrick Sharp and Andrew Ladd also tallied for the Blackhawks, who had come up empty since topping the Detroit Red Wings 49 years ago. It was the longest current title drought in the NHL.
Jonathan Toews, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP, collected an assist and tied Denis Savard's franchise playoff record with 29 points in the postseason.
Antti Niemi looked shaky at times in the third period and overtime, but nonetheless earned his 16th win of the postseason with 21 stops for Chicago, which became the first team to win on the road in the best-of-seven set.
Danny Briere picked up a goal and two assists and in the process set a new Flyers' single-season playoff points record with 30. Ville Leino added two key assists for Philadelphia, which has fallen short in each of its last six Cup Finals appearances since last winning in 1975.
Leighton acquitted himself well in defeat. After being pulled following the first period in Sunday's Game 5 loss, he made 37 saves in this season-ending defeat -- several of them crucial as his club clawed from behind just to reach the extra session.
They're polishing the Cup downstairs at Wachovia Center. After deflating the Flyers with a soft game-tying goal by Patrick Sharp, the Blackhawks took the lead at the 17:43 mark of the second period. Nicklas Hjalmarsson's blast was tipped in front by Andrew Ladd, and the couple hundred Chicago fans in attendance erupted at the result.
The Flyers look dead tired right now. The Sharp goal really took a lot of energy out of the building and out of the team, but if there's one thing you can call this Flyers team, it's resilient. They've fought back plenty of times this season, and they're going to have to now.
Philly knows what's at stake, and after the character they've displayed in these playoffs to date, we should expect them to leave it all out on the ice in the third period. The question is, of course, will it be enough?
20 minutes to go. We could have a champion in 20 minutes.
The tide seemed to be turning. The Flyers were swarming, thanks to a thunderous hit from their Captain and a quick strike from Danny Briere. They had the lead, a power play, and all the momentum.
Then, the Blackhawks happened. Duncan Keith, Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp connected with some nifty passing, and Sharp's weak five-hole shot flubbed through Michael Leighton. The score is tied at 2-2, and suddenly fans at Wachovia Center need a bit of a pick me up. Perhaps a TV timeout will do the trick.
- Tonight's attendance: 20,327. It's the third-straight game where the Flyers have set a record for attendance in team history, in the building's history, and in Pennsylvania hockey history.
Just as I finished the segment below, Duncan Keith fell on his backside at the Chicago blueline. Ville Leino was right there with the puck, he broke in on goal, and fed it to Danny Briere who put it in the back of the net to give Philly the 2-1 lead.
Wachovia Center = loud. Wow.
The pace here is so crazy that it's tough to type. Both teams are getting chances deep in the other teams end, but the Flyers seem to be the team controlling play a bit more than Chicago so far here in the second.
We're seven minutes in now, and after a gigantic, momentum-building penalty kill, the Flyers really started to generate a lot of pressure in the Blackhawks end. The line of Scott Hartnell, Ville Leino and Danny Briere is absolutely on fire for Philly, but the 'Hawks defense is doing a solid job of limiting their chances.
Still, the Flyers are getting the cycle game going, and that type of hockey usually wears on a defending team after a while. Mike Richards leveling people along the wall will tire a team, too, of course. We'll see if they can keep the pace.
The Phillies were rained out across the street at Citizens Bank Park tonight (thank God, no traffic), meaning 100 percent of Philadelphia sports mind is focused on the Flyers tonight. That extends to the players, too.
In this photo via @phillyfan323, you can see Phils pitcher Ryan Madson (or, at least, who we're led to believe is Madson) -- yes, the chair-kicker -- with a few handy beverages.
Chris Pronger was called for high-sticking, and it was probably a phantom call. On the power play, Dustin Byfuglien was able to reign free in front of Michael Leighton with the big Pronger in the box. He scored his 11th of the playoffs, and the Blackhawks have a 1-0 lead.
Almost immediately after the power play, in an apparent make-up call, Brent Seabrook was sent to the box for elbowing. Through two power plays, the Flyers can't seem to get anything going. Chicago is blocking shots at will and clogging passing lanes like they're playing for the Stanley Cup. .... oh, right.
And just as I'm ready to hit publish, another penalty is called on Chicago. It's the second interference call on Brent Sopel this period, and the Flyers have capitalized just about right away. Scott Hartnell, positioned in front of the net, banged home a loose rebound to even the score.
What timing, with 20 seconds left and everything. That's the kind of stuff that turns momentun. We'll see when the second period kicks off.
- Chris Pronger was called for holding at the 8:42 mark. It seemed like a matter of time before one would get called on Philadelphia, the way Chicago was pressing deep in their end.
- Chicago rang one shot off the post on the power play, but the Flyers effectively killed the minor penalty with several clears and a bit of luck.
-The Blackhawks are looking for the East-West pass all over the place. They're throwing the puck right through the slot, and it's just a matter of time before they connect.
- J.J. Daigneault was just shown here on the video board. In the 1987 Finals against Edmonton, he scored the winning goal in Game 6 to send the series to a seventh game. It's regarded as the loudest moment in the history of the old Spectrum.
- Michael Leighton looks confident and solid early. He did in Game 5 though, too, before allowing three and being pulled after the first period.
- After an early flurry from the Blackhawks in the first two shifts, the Flyers have controlled play since. Now at the 3 minute mark, early jitters seem to be in effect for both teams.
- It's a heavy hitting game early. Simon Gagne was fiercely bumped off the puck in the first minute, and Blackhawks bodies were swarming on pucks down low on the first few shifts.
- One thing is for sure: this place is loud. I've been here for a lot of hockey, and this might be the loudest I've ever heard this building. it makes you think the Flyers could be the ones hoisting the Cup tonight.
- When the Hawks get the puck deep in the Flyers end, Philly is having a lot of trouble clearing it out of harms way. They've clogging things up in front of Michael Leighton, but they aren't getting pucks past the blueline. It's making things difficult on their d'men, who they already rely on for a lot of minutes.
- The first big stop? A kick save by Antti Niemi on a Gagne shot about five minutes, 30 seconds in.
- They start off with the usual fare here in Philadelphia, and can you really blame them? All the usual pump up music. Don't Stop Believe, that Tonight's Gonna Be A Good Night song by the Black Eyes Peas (I don't know its real name, so whatever). There are also about four different pump-up videos prior to the singing of the anthem.
- As the Flyers hit the ice, in what will no doubt be their last home game in this incredible playoff run, the Wachovia Center absoultely exploded.
- Starting lineups for the Flyers: Leighton in goal, Carle and Pronger on defense, Hartnell, Briere and Leino up front.
- And for the Hawks: Niemi in goal, Keith and Seabrook on the blueline, Toews, Hossa and Kopecky up front.
- Also, the Kate Smith / Lauren Hart rendition of 'God Bless America' is amazing. I've seen it at least 20 times and it never, ever gets old. Absolutely spine-tingling.
As is done with every game here at SB Nation, our hockey blogs are hosting discussion threads for Game 6 this evening.
- To join in with Blackhawks fans, head over to Second City Hockey. They're ready to hoist the Cup.
- To join in with Flyers fans, head over to Broad Street Hockey. They're ready to force a Game 7.
PHILADELPHIA -- I'm Travis Hughes and I'm here at Wachovia Center in Philly tonight for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers. Chicago's hoping to hoist the Cup for the first time in 49 years tonight, while the Flyers and 20,000 of their closest friends are hoping the orange and black can send this thing back to United Center for a decisive Game 7.
I'll be providing color throughout the night as the game rolls on, so strap in and get ready for what might be the final night of meaningful NHL hockey until October.
- The Stanley Cup is in the house tonight, and if the Blackhawks are up late in the third period, they'll take 'er out for polishing and get all set for presentation. The Flyers are hoping it never leaves its case, of course.
- Prior to the game, as they do each night, several of the Flyers kicked a soccer ball around in a hallway at ice level. Enrico from the excellent Philly sports blog The 700 Level snapped a few photos. Here's one:
- There are a good number of Blackhawks fans at the Wachovia Center this evening. Can you blame them, really? Nevermind that the average ticket price is in the quadruple digits, their team can clinch a Cup tonight for the first time in 49 years. That's a pretty priceless investment.
- Patrick Kane was last off the ice during warmups for the Blackhawks. As he left, he flipped a puck over the glass to a group of Chicago fans seated near the locker room tunnel.
- At the other end of the ice, several Flyers were still on the ice when Kane exited to the visiting tunnel, but Danny Briere did his usual lap to center ice well after the horn sounded and the ice crew hit the ice to remove the nets. The Wachovia Center faithful gave him a standing ovation.
This place is ready for some hockey. Puck drop is scheduled for around 8:25 on NBC in the States.
Here are a few pre-game notes prior to Game 6 (8:00 P.M. Eastern; NBC, CBC, RDS) of the Stanley Cup Final between Philadelphia and Chicago.
- Since the best-of-seven format debuted in 1939, 24 Game 6's have been hosted by teams who face elimination. Those teams have a 10-14 record in those Game 6's. Of the 10 teams who have won and forced a Game 7, just three of them went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Pittsburgh Penguins did it last season against the Red Wings. Flyers forward Ville Leino was on that Wings team.
The other two teams? Montreal in 1971 and Detroit in 1950.
- Peter Laviolette coached the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. That year, in the Finals against Chris Pronger's Edmonton Oilers, the Hurricanes lost Game 6 as the Oilers forced a seventh game. "I went back to the hotel in Edmonton and almost threw up," Laviolette said of the experience. No worries: they won the Cup at home in Game 7.
- The Flyers have outscored opponents 37-20 in 10 home games in the playoffs this year. They're 9-1 in those games, and goaltender Michael Leighton is 6-0 with two shutouts at the Wachovia Center this spring. He's only allowed nine goals.
- Should the Flyers win tonight, the Final will be on pace for the home team to win every game of the series. That's only happened three times, in 1955, 1965 and 2003.
- Six teams have overcome losing Game 5 while tied at 2-2 to win a series: last year's Penguins, the 2004 Lightning, the 2001 Avalanche, 1971 Canadiens (against Chicago), 1964 Maple Leafs and the 1950 Red Wings.
PHILADELPHIA -- When the Philadelphia Flyers went down 0-3 against the Boston Bruins in their Eastern Conference semifinal series (seems like that was a year ago now, doesn't it?), Peter Laviolette knew his team couldn't focus on the big, gaping hole they stared them in the face.
No, the Flyers had to take things one game at a time. Laviolette became known for the phrase "Can we beat the Boston Bruins tonight?" Not, "can we beat Boston four straight times?" Can we do it tonight?
And that's exactly what they did. They beat the Boston Bruins four straight times, but it was never looked at that way by the guys in orange and black. They saw themselves win four individual games against the Bruins, and they just happened to be in back-to-back-to-back-to-back fashion.
So as the Flyers prepare for yet another elimination game, their fifth this year if you include Game 82 of the regular season, they know what they have to do. They're not focusing on the Stanley Cup. They're not focusing on Game 7 on Friday. They're focusing on a home game against the Chicago Blackhawks on a Wednesday night in June.
"We can't win the Cup tonight," said Peter Laviolette after his team's morning skate here at Wachovia Center before Game 6. "We need to win one hockey game. I think it's important we keep our eye on the ball. That's the game, the minutes that are being played, every stride that's accounted for.
"I think what's really important is our preparation to how we play tonight. And if we focus solely on that, then I like our team. I'm confident in our team's ability to win a game."
Chris Pronger talked about his coach and this philosophy that's treated them so well thus far to this point.
"I think Peter, as I said in past press conferences, Peter has done an excellent job of keeping the guys on point and focused and understanding that we got to worry about one game," Pronger said on Tuesday's off day. "Not look at what can be the prize, whether it's a closeout game or you're trying to move on to the next series, or a position like this where our backs are against the walls.
"We have to focus on Game 6 and not worry about what's going to happen down the pipe. We have to make sure that we're worrying about our next shift and not what can happy if you get to a possible Game 7 or whatever."
For more on the Flyers, visit Broad Street Hockey.
The following preview is courtesy of Sports Network. Follow along with us all day, as SB Nation's Travis Hughes is at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia for tonight's potential Cup-clinching Game 6 between the Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks.
The home team has won all five games in this best-of-seven set and Chicago grabbed a 3-2 series lead with a dominating 7-4 victory in Sunday's Game 5 battle at United Center.
After winning Games 1 and 2 on home ice, the Blackhawks were dealt consecutive losses in Philadelphia before retaking the lead in the series on Sunday night. Overall, Chicago is 7-3 as the guest in this postseason, while the Flyers have an impressive 9-1 mark on home ice.
Both the Blackhawks and Flyers are looking to end lengthy championship droughts. Chicago can lift Lord Stanley's Cup for the first time since 1961 with a victory tonight. The Flyers, meanwhile, will need to win this evening and also take Friday's Game 7 in Chicago to win their first title since 1975.
The Blackhawks were led by Dustin Byfuglien in Sunday's contest, as the big forward finally broke out, scoring two goals and adding two assists in the 7-4 decision. Byfuglien had been held to just one assist through the first four games before turning in his strong Game 5 performance.
"I don't know if I really got off my game. I just wasn't getting the bounces and the things that makes me happy," Byfuglien said. "I just knew I had to come in and work hard and do the best I can to help the team. That's the way I came in today."
Kris Versteeg had a goal and two assists, while Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland and Brent Seabrook each had a goal and a helper for the Blackhawks, whose power play was lethal after looking lethargic for the first four contests. Entering the game with a 1-for-9 mark on the man advantage, Chicago went 2-for-4 on Sunday.
"We just settled down and played our game, and that's a big factor," Byfuglien said of the power play. "Even with the even strength, we came out ready to go, controlling the puck a little better. That led into the power play with guys just settling down, confidence and just playing. That's something we needed to do."
Antti Niemi, fresh off giving up eight goals in Games 3 and 4 -- both losses -- allowed four goals on 27 shots to earn the victory. The Hawks now have history on their side, as the team winning Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals when tied, 2-2, has gone on to win the series 14 of 20 times. However, one of those six defeats came last season, when Pittsburgh rallied to beat Detroit in seven games.
Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa is also just one win away from his first Stanley Cup title after playing for the losing team in each of the last two Cup Finals. He was a member of the Penguins two years ago when they lost in six games to Detroit and was on the Red Wings last spring when they were defeated by Pittsburgh in seven games.
Scott Hartnell, James van Riemsdyk, Simon Gagne and Kimmo Timonen scored for the Flyers, who will have to make yet another comeback to finish off their fairy tale with a happy ending. Philadelphia, the seventh-seeded team from the East, recovered from an 0-3 deficit in the conference semis against Boston and an 0-2 deficit here in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Michael Leighton allowed three goals on 13 shots in the first period, prompting the Flyers to insert Brian Boucher, who made 11 saves the rest of the way. Chris Pronger, who had been a steady defensive force for each of the first four games, took a minor penalty and had a career-worst minus-five rating.
"We didn't do a very good job in the neutral zone," Pronger said. "The first period we didn't get much of a forecheck. Subsequently, we were in our own end. It was just a matter of time. Staving off, staving off, eventually they're going to get to you. And they did."
Philadelphia's power play, which went 5-for-16 in the first four games, was 0- for-3 in Game 5.
Following the game, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette was non-committal about who would start in net in Game 6, but all signs are pointing to Leighton.
"I don't have an answer for that," Laviolette said. "Our team needs to be better, the whole group, I believe, needs to be better. When we're successful, we do it as a team. When we lose and we have a night that's tougher, we do it as a team."
This is just the second-ever playoff meeting between Chicago and Philadelphia. The other battle was in the 1971 quarterfinals, a series that was swept by the Blackhawks.
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