Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018
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Return to Chicago energizes Blackhawks in Stanley Cup finals

CHICAGO - Dustin Byfuglien scored two goals and had two assists as the Chicago Blackhawks got off to a quick start, got their offense untracked and beat the Philadelphia Flyers 7-4 Sunday night for a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup finals.

Brent Seabrook added a power-play goal and Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks.

Chicago can capture the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961 with a victory Wednesday night in Philadelphia in Game 6. A Flyers win would send the series back to Chicago for a decisive Game 7 on Friday night.

All five wins in the series have come on home ice.

Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, James van Riemsdyk, and Simon Gagne scored for the Flyers. Gagne's goal with 2:36 left made it 6-4, but a half-minute later Byfuglien converted an empty-netter.

After two straight losses in Philadelphia, a return to the United Center invigorated the Blackhawks as did some line mixing by coach Joel Quenneville.

The Blackhawks blitzed Flyers goalie Michael Leighton with three goals in the final 7:43 of the first period and the United Center erupted as Chicago quickly found the offensive game that had helped it make the finals.

Leighton was pulled - for the second time in the series in favor of Brian Boucher - after giving up three goals on 13 shots in the first period.

Trailing 3-0, the Flyers wasted little time in getting one of the goals back as Ville Leino took the puck to side of the net and tried to stuff it in. But after hitting goalie Antti Niemi, the puck sat just off the line before Hartnell came in and knocked it in 32 seconds into the period.

Kane, who had been with Byfuglien on a struggling Blackhawks first line that Quenneville split up, got his second goal of the finals on a nice pass from Andrew Ladd. Ladd had his shot blocked by Chris Pronger, recovered the puck, and passed it to Kane, who streaked to the net to beat Boucher for a 4-1 lead.

But as they have done throughout the series, the gritty Flyers responded quickly with one of their own. Timonen converted from the left circle after Niemi had gone down making a save seconds earlier, and it was 4-2.

With Flyers defensive star Pronger in the penalty box for hooking, the 257-pound Byfuglien who likes the space in front of the net, finally got his first goal of the series after a pass from captain Jonathan Toews, making it 5-2.

Before the goal, Niemi made a great pad save on an attempt by Mike Richards during a Flyers power play.

NOTES: In the 20 previous Stanley Cup finals series tied 2-2, the club winning Game 5 has won the Stanley Cup 14 times. Last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins were one of the six teams to overcome a loss in Game 5 after the series had been tied at 2. ... Among the 22,305 in attendance was Michael Jordan, wearing a Toews jersey and waving a souvenir towel.

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