CHICAGO — Home ice, juggled lines and balanced scoring got the Blackhawks on a roll Sunday night. Their stars showed up, especially Dustin Byfuglien, and now the Stanley Cup is one victory from their grasp.
Byfuglien, bumped from the top line as was Patrick Kane, had two goals and two assists to lead a 7-4 win over the Flyers, giving Chicago a 3-2 series lead.
"I think he got rid of us and started performing. That's all he needed," said Kane, who also had a goal and assist. "He was a force and had some big hits, one on (Flyers defenseman Chris) Pronger I think everyone remembers."
The 257-pound Byfuglien, who had eight goals in the first three rounds of the playoffs but none in the first four games against a tough Flyers defense, had a power-play goal in the second period and added an empty-net tally in the closing seconds.
"Getting down there two games in their building, we had to come back with some fire and get on them and show them we weren't going to quit," Byfuglien said. "Right from the get-go we moved our feet and were physical."
The line that included Byfuglien, Kane and Jonathan Toews — effective earlier in the playoffs — was split up by coach Joel Quenneville. They had combined for just one goal and four assists in the first four games.
"We had to change things up. We didn't really have time to sit and think about who we were playing with," Byfuglien said.
Brent Seabrook added a power-play goal, and Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp also scored for Chicago.
The Blackhawks can capture the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1961 with a victory Wednesday in Philadelphia. A Flyers win sends the series back to Chicago on Friday night for a decisive Game 7.
Simon Gagne's goal reduced the Flyers' deficit to 6-4 with 2:36 left, but half a minute later Byfuglien hit the empty-netter.
"We've got to go back home now and start all over," Flyers forward Ville Leino said. "I think we were ready. We were a little too ready. I think we were a little nervous. Nobody wanted the puck. We didn't make plays."
The Blackhawks blitzed goalie Michael Leighton with three goals in the final 7:43 of the first period, and the United Center erupted as Chicago found the offensive game that had helped it make the final.
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.
"We weren't very good in the first period," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said, adding he didn't know who would start in goal for Game 6.
Leighton got hit by a puck on the knee during warmups, but he downplayed that.
"It's just a bruise," he said. "It didn't affect the way I played. Once you get on the ice, you don't really think about it."
Trailing 3-0, the Flyers wasted little time in getting one goal back as Leino took the puck to the side of the net and tried to stuff it in. After hitting goalie Antti Niemi, the puck sat just off the line before Scott Hartnell came in and knocked it home 32 seconds into the second.
Kane got his second goal of the final on a pass from Andrew Ladd. Ladd had his shot blocked by Pronger, recovered the puck and passed it to Kane, who streaked to the net uncovered to beat Boucher for a 4-1 lead. Pronger finished with a miserable minus-5 rating.
With Pronger in the penalty box for hooking, Byfuglien — who likes the space in front of the net — finally got his first goal of the series after a pass from captain Toews, making it 5-2 in the second.
|Blackhawks lead series 3-2|
First Period—1, Chicago, Seabrook 4 (Versteeg, Brouwer), 12:17 (pp). 2, Chicago, Bolland 8 (Sopel, Byfuglien), 15:26. 3, Chicago, Versteeg 6 (Seabrook, Byfuglien), 18:15. Penalties—Krajicek, Phi (cross-checking), 2:50; Bolland, Chi (cross-checking), 9:15; Hartnell, Phi (high-sticking), 11:16.
Second Period—4, Philadelphia, Hartnell 6 (Leino, Briere), :32. 5, Chicago, Kane 9 (Ladd, Sharp), 3:13. 6, Philadelphia, Timonen 1 (Briere, Leino), 4:38. 7, Chicago, Byfuglien 9 (Toews, Keith), 15:45 (pp). Penalties—Hartnell, Phi (elbowing), 7:19; Seabrook, Chi (closing hand on puck), 9:51; Pronger, Phi (hooking), 15:18.
Third Period—8, Philadelphia, van Riemsdyk 3 (Krajicek, Timonen), 6:36. 9, Chicago, Sharp 10 (Kane), 16:08. 10, Philadelphia, Gagne 9 (Leino), 17:24. 11, Chicago, Byfuglien 10 (Versteeg, Bolland), 17:55 (en). Penalties—Versteeg, Chi (slashing), 10:38. Shots on Goal—Philadelphia 7-10-10—27. Chicago 13-8-7—28. Power-play opportunities—Philadelphia 0 of 3; Chicago 2 of 4. Goalies—Philadelphia, Leighton (13 shots-10 saves), Boucher 6-6-0 (0:00 second, 14-11). Chicago, Niemi 15-6-0 (27-23). A—22,305 (19,717). T—2:30. Referees—Bill McCreary, Dan O'Halloran. Linesmen—Greg Devorski, Pierre Racicot.