It was NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman's birthday last night, and it's safe to say he enjoyed it. Not only did this close Stanley Cup Finals continue it's 1 goal margin-of-victory trend, not only was there an overtime, but the series between the 3rd and 8th largest media markets in the country is very far from over.
PHILADELPHIA 4, CHICAGO 3 (Blackhawks lead series 2-1)
This felt like a Game 7. The Flyers acted like it were Game 7. The Blackhakws acted as if it were Game 3. Niemi bailed out his teammates more than once, but Chicago was unable to consolidate the one lead they had, which only lasted 20 seconds.
Some Blackhawks had great nights. The afore-mentioned Niemi, Marian Hossa, Toews and Kane hooked up for a goal. But some Blackhawks weren't so great. Chris Pronger stifled the monstrous Dustin Byfuglien, and antagonized him into taking a stupid penalty that resulted in a power play goal.
Special teams have been one-sided in Philly's favor this series. They're 7 of 10 on the power play (yikes!), while the Blackhawks are 0 for 6 with a man advantage. You hear that and it's shocking that Chicago's up 2-1.
The Flyers were faster, made much better decisions with the puck, dominated key faceoffs, out-hit the Blackhawks, and were better at everything except perhaps goaltending. I wouldn't say Philly dominated, but how many Stanley Cup Final games are dominated by one team or another?
Chicago needs to rebound in Game 4. They don't need to win, but now neither do the Flyers. The Blackhawks need a better effort, and they need to do things like not get outshot 15-4 in the 3rd period.
Game 4 Friday night on Versus.
The Canadian Press