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Monday, May 31, 2010
1 - 2
FINAL 1 2 3 T
Flyers 0 0 1 1
Blackhawks 0 2 0 2
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PHI:   S. Gagne (PPG, 05:20 - 3rd)
CHI:   M. Hossa (17:09 - 2nd) , B. Eager (17:37 - 2nd)

PHI: M. Leighton (L)
 CHI: A. Niemi (W)
Niemi shuts the door as Hawks take 2-0 series lead
Dan Rosen  - NHL.com staff writer

CHICAGO -- For the last two months the Chicago Blackhawks have been talking about how calm and composed Antti Niemi remains when the pressure is pounding on him.

The Finnish goalie proved it again Monday night with a marvelous rebound effort after a sub-par, yet still victorious, outing two nights earlier.

Niemi came up with 33 saves as the Blackhawks rode him and a pair of lightning quick goals from Marian Hossa and Ben Eager late in the second period to a 2-1 victory and a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final over the homeward bound Philadelphia Flyers.
Game 3 will be in Wachovia Center Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS). The Flyers are 7-1 on their home ice in the playoffs, but the Blackhawks have the same record in road buildings this spring. In fact, they've won seven straight in unfriendly surroundings.

Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, who started despite being pulled in the second period of Game 1 after allowing five goals on 20 shots, wrapped a strong game around the 28-second outburst by the Hawks late in the second period.

Leighton made 24 saves, but he couldn't stop Hossa at the right point on a rebound goal and he probably would like another shot at stopping Eager's wrist shot from the top of the right circle that flew over his catching glove less than a half-minute later.

Simon Gagne cut into Chicago's lead with a power-play goal 5:20 into the third period. Brent Seabrook deflected Gagne's one-timer with his stick and the puck fluttered past Niemi with one second left on Patrick Sharp's penalty for tripping Danny Briere.

Gagne had a chance to make it 2-2 with 7:40 to play, but Niemi got his left pad across the crease in time to stop him at the right post. It was his 26th save of the night and maybe his most important.

Niemi won Game 1, but he allowed five goals on 32 shots. It was the second time he allowed five goals in a game in the playoffs. But the last time he did it he came back with a 24-save effort to win Game 2 against Vancouver.

He was even more effective in Game 2 of this series. Before the Hawks grabbed their 2-0 lead, Niemi flashed some serious leather with dazzling glove saves on Daniel Carcillo, Mike Richards and Arron Asham all within five minutes in the second. He also stoned Richards on a breakaway earlier in the period.

Niemi made 15 saves in the second period after facing only three shots in the first. He added 15 more in the third period.

The second period, though, went along rather quietly until the theatrics of the final three minutes. The Hawks scored twice, including one from the previously snake-bit Hossa, within 28 seconds to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission. But the Flyers started the third period with 1:24 left on Troy Brouwer's roughing penalty on Jeff Carter.

Hossa, who had only two goals in the playoffs and hadn't scored since Game 3 against Vancouver (nine games ago), finally got one with 2:51 to play when from the right post he batted the loose, bouncing puck past Leighton to make it 1-0 Blackhawks.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette gambled by having his third defensive pair of Lukas Krajicek and Oskars Bartulis on the ice against Hossa, Brouwer and Sharp. While Brouwer was battling in front with Bartulis, Hossa beat Krajicek to the puck in order to score the goal. Sharp had the initial shot from the high slot.

On the very next shift, the Flyers turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Dustin Byfuglien found a wide-open Eager, who had just come onto the ice for Patrick Kane. Eager skated to the top of the right circle and ripped a shot that went through Flyers defenseman Matt Carle, over Leighton's catching glove and into the near corner.

Brouwer nearly made it 3-0 with just over a minute left in the period when nearly beat Leighton off a broken play. Hossa also had a chance on the rebound, but he couldn't get a shot off as he tried to drag the puck across the zone.

The Flyers, though, picked up a power-play opportunity with 36 seconds left when Brouwer tackled Carter in Niemi's blue paint during a scuffle after the whistle. Philadelphia couldn't convert despite 84 seconds carrying over into the third period.

The series turned nasty in the first period as there was lots of talking, pushing, shoving and hitting, both before and after the whistle, within the scoreless 20 minutes. The Blackhawks ended up with 20 hits to the Flyers' 13. By comparison, Philadelphia outhit Chicago, 40-37, in Game 1, which was civil compared to the start of Game 2.

After going without a power play for the first 74 minutes and 48 seconds of the series, the Hawks finally got one when Blair Betts was called for cross checking Adam Burish along the wall with 5:12 to play in the first period. The Blackhawks didn't get a shot on goal.

Chicago got another power-play chance with 2:33 to play. Tomas Kopecky and Daniel Carcillo got matching minors for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct, respectively, but Mike Richards also was sent off for elbowing Kopecky.

Carcillo was a healthy scratch in Game 1, but in the lineup for Game 2 because the sharp edge to his game was something the Flyers lacked Saturday. He made his presence felt quickly, but maybe not all in the most positive way for Philadelphia.

He laid a devastating open-ice hit roughly seven minutes in, but unfortunately it was on his own teammate, Carter, who had his helmet knocked off by Carcillo. The guy they call "Car Bomb" then picked up his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 17:27.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Shift of the game: Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were hemmed in the defensive zone for well over a minute after Michael Leighton went off for the extra skater. Even though they were exhausted, they were able to keep the shots mostly to the outside and Antti Niemi did the rest to preserve the lead during the 6-on-5 situation. Sharp finally had a chance at the empty net, but his long shot hit off the right post. The puck was finally frozen with 19.4 seconds left and the Flyers used their timeout. The Hawks killed off the remaining time and won the game.

Three star selections
3rd:   BEN EAGER
Winning Goaltender
Antti Niemi

Losing Goaltender
Michael Leighton




1 z - SJS 82 51 20 11 264 215 113
2 y - CHI 82 52 22 8 271 209 112
3 y - VAN 82 49 28 5 272 222 103
4 x - PHX 82 50 25 7 225 202 107
5 x - DET 82 44 24 14 229 216 102
6 x - LAK 82 46 27 9 241 219 101
7 x - NSH 82 47 29 6 225 225 100
8 x - COL 82 43 30 9 244 233 95
9 STL 82 40 32 10 225 223 90
10 CGY 82 40 32 10 204 210 90
11 ANA 82 39 32 11 238 251 89
12 DAL 82 37 31 14 237 254 88
13 MIN 82 38 36 8 219 246 84
14 CBJ 82 32 35 15 216 259 79
15 EDM 82 27 47 8 214 284 62


2009-2010 PLAYOFFS
J. Toews 18 7 19 2 26
P. Kane 18 7 13 -1 20
P. Sharp 18 8 10 6 18
M. Hossa 18 3 11 11 14
D. Bolland 18 6 6 6 12
D. Byfuglien 18 8 3 -5 11
K. Versteeg 18 5 6 3 11
D. Keith 18 1 10 5 11
B. Seabrook 18 3 6 10 9
T. Brouwer 15 4 3 0 7
C. Huet 0 0 0 1.000 0.00
A. Niemi 14 4 0 .919 2.40
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