CHICAGO — From the first faceoff, the Stanley Cup opener between the Blackhawks and Flyers was like a track meet on ice.
Fast-paced, up and down, the game was played at breakneck speed. Two teams trying to get off to a quick start traded goals for the first two periods. It was almost a question of which one would score last in this meeting of franchises that have experienced long title droughts.
On this night it was the Blackhawks.
Tomas Kopecky, who had been a scratch the previous five playoff games and was in the lineup because of an injury to wing Andrew Ladd, scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, and the Blackhawks beat the Flyers 6-5 on Saturday night.
"(The Flyers) came out strong. They were playing really physical," said Chicago forward Kris Versteeg, who had a goal and an assist. "We had to match them, and once we did that, I think we did well."
Kopecky scored from the left side with a sharp-angled shot that beat backup goalie Brian Boucher at 8:25 of the third. Flyers captain Mike Richards responded by slamming his stick across the crossbar, shattering it in half.
The Flyers failed to hold three one-goal leads.
"You lose the first game of the Stanley Cup finals and it's hard to sit here and thumb through the positives right now," coach Peter Laviolette said.
Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell had a goal and two assists apiece for the Flyers.
Chicago's Troy Brouwer scored two goals, the second putting the Blackhawks ahead 5-4 in the second period and prompting the Flyers to replace starter Michael Leighton with Boucher. Boucher had missed seven straight playoff games with injuries to both knees after leaving Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Boston.
Perhaps the oddest statistic of the game: The Flyers played the whole thing without being penalized. Chicago was called for four penalties — three in the first period leading to one Flyers goal and a shorthanded one for itself from Dave Bolland — for a total of eight minutes.
Brouwer's second goal, on a pass from Marian Hossa, who reversed himself behind the net, came from the left circle with 4:42 left in the second, sending ex-Blackhawks goalie Leighton to the bench.
Leighton had been brilliant since taking over in the second round. He entered the game with a 6-1 record, including three shutouts, after replacing Boucher. He had a 1.45 goals-against average and save percentage of .948. He was pulled after giving up his fifth goal on 20 shots.
|Blackhawks lead series 1-0|
|Blackhawks lead series 1-0|
First Period—1, Philadelphia, Leino 5 (Briere, Pronger), 6:38. 2, Chicago, Brouwer 3 (Hossa, Sopel), 7:46. 3, Chicago, Bolland 6, 11:50 (sh). 4, Philadelphia, Hartnell 4 (Briere, Pronger), 16:37 (pp). 5, Philadelphia, Briere 10 (Leino, Hartnell), 19:33. Penalties—Eager, Chi (cross-checking), 3:26; Kane, Chi (slashing), 9:58; Campbell, Chi (high-sticking), 15:51.
Second Period—6, Chicago, Sharp 8 (Brouwer, Hjalmarsson), 1:11. 7, Philadelphia, Betts 1 (Asham, Powe), 7:20. 8, Chicago, Versteeg 5 (Kopecky, Keith), 9:31. 9, Chicago, Brouwer 4 (Hossa, Hjalmarsson), 15:18. 10, Philadelphia, Asham 4 (Briere, Hartnell), 18:49. Penalties—Burish, Chi (boarding), 4:49.
Third Period—11, Chicago, Kopecky 4 (Versteeg, Bolland), 8:25. Penalties—None. Shots on Goal—Philadelphia 17-9-6—32. Chicago 9-15-8—32. Power-play opportunities—Philadelphia 1 of 4; Chicago 0 of 0. Goalies—Philadelphia, Leighton (20 shots-15 saves), Boucher 6-5-0 (15:18 second, 12-11). Chicago, Niemi 13-4-0 (32-27). A—22,312 (19,717).