What a frustrating and heartbreaking loss that was. The Blackhawks took Game 5, 7-4, and now hold a 3-2 series lead. They’re one win from taking the Cup and ending their drought.
Going into the game, everyone kind of expected Chicago to come out blazing for the first 10 minutes, and then for things to settle down. Well, that first 10 turned into the first 20, and they ended up lighting up the Flyers for 3 goals. Leighton looked less than stellar, and didn’t come back after the first intermission. With Boucher in net, things didn’t improve too much. The teams traded a pair of goals in the second, so Chicago still held their 3 goal cushion heading into the third. Same thing goes for the third period, with the 7th and final goal being an empty netter. Sorry, it’s all I can muster for a recap; it’s too depressing to go into details of all the goals.
As good as Chicago looked, the Flyers kept giving us hope. After the first, they never got within two goals, but you never really felt they were out of it. Niemi continued to suck, giving up juicy rebounds, being out of position, losing sight of the puck. Unfortunately, the Flyers couldn’t punish him enough. They missed a few wide open nets that could have completely changed things. This wasn’t a game where the ‘Hawks shut the Flyers down at all. More like they took a lead, and hung on.
Leino and Hartnell continued to look good in the Finals. Unfortunately, Pronger seemed off the entire night. In addition to being -5 for the night, he was also manhandled physically. The big highlight that Chicago fans will be talking about is when Byfuglian caught Pronger and crushed him into the boards. I’m not going to make a big rant about the play, but it should have been a penalty. Pronger didn’t have the puck, didn’t touch the puck, and was just turning to go for the puck. I’m pretty sure that constitutes interference. He’s gotten away with a ton of shots throughout the series, and a penalty in this spot probably wouldn’t have changed much anyway.
In the end, Chicago came to play from the opening faceoff, and the Flyers were stuck playing catch-up all night. How this can happen after the Flyers had dominated most of the play for the last three games, I don’t know.
So, here we stand. Chicago has two tries to win one game. For the Flyers to win the Cup, they cannot lose again. It’s been one hell of a run so far, and I hope the Flyers have enough fuel left to pull off the upset. They’ll have two days of rest until Game 6 on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. The crowd will be juiced, and I expected a much better start for the Orange and Black.
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