PHILADELPHIA — Niklas Hjalmarsson picked a bad time for his roughest night of the playoffs. Until a late rally, the rest of the Blackhawks didn't fare a whole lot better.
The 23-year-old defenseman coughed up the puck twice in front of his net in the first period, and the Flyers took advantage of both gaffes. That was enough to beat the Blackhawks 5-3 Friday night and tie the Stanley Cup final after four games.
Hjalmarsson, in his first full NHL season, had been solid in the playoffs, putting up a goal and six assists along with a plus-9 rating in 19 games. But his two glaring mistakes in the first led to the Flyers' first two goals and a 2-0 lead.
On the first goal, Philadelphia captain Mike Richards, who has had a rough series himself, stole the puck cleanly from Hjalmarsson on a Flyers power play and wrapped it around the net and through the legs of surprised goalie Antti Niemi at 4:35.
"(Hjalmarsson) hung on to the puck a little bit too long," said Richards, who scored his first goal of the series.
"I just grabbed it from him and threw it at the net, and it went in."
On the second, Hjalmarsson tried to sweep the puck out of his crease, but he put it right on the stick of Flyers and former Lightning defenseman Matt Carle. With Niemi out of the net, Carle had nothing in front of him and fired the puck in at 14:48.
"I just feel like I let the team down," Hjalmarsson said.
Claude Giroux also scored in the first for the Flyers, and Jeff Carter scored an empty-netter in the final seconds to help Philadelphia become the first team in this series to win a game by more than one goal.
"I like our game," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "I like what we're doing. … (The play is) going back and forth quick both ways. Guys are really competing out there. But nothing changed for us. Our game hasn't changed."
With the Flyers leading 4-1 early in the third period after a Ville Leino goal, Chicago's Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell scored to slice their deficit to one.
Patrick Sharp had the Blackhawks' other goal, scored at 18:32 of the first to cut Chicago's deficit to 2-1. But Giroux scored with 28 seconds left in the period to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead after one.
|Series tied 2-2|
First Period—1, Philadelphia, Richards 7, 4:35 (pp). 2, Philadelphia, Carle 1, 14:48. 3, Chicago, Sharp 9 (Keith), 18:32. 4, Philadelphia, Giroux 10 (Timonen, Hartnell), 19:23. Penalties—Ladd, Chi (interference), :36; Kopecky, Chi (high-sticking), 4:30; Timonen, Phi (hooking), 8:16.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Bolland, Chi (high-sticking), 1:27; Sharp, Chi (slashing), 12:53; Boynton, Chi (slashing), 18:22; Hartnell, Phi (cross-checking), 18:22.
Third Period—5, Philadelphia, Leino 7 (Briere, van Riemsdyk), 6:43. 6, Chicago, Bolland 7 (Keith, Kane), 12:01 (pp). 7, Chicago, Campbell 1 (Ladd, Keith), 15:50. 8, Philadelphia, Carter 5, 19:35 (en). Penalties—Seabrook, Chi (cross-checking), 8:03; Hartnell, Phi (unsportsmanlike conduct), 10:46; Coburn, Phi (holding), 11:49; Versteeg, Chi (slashing), 19:42. Shots on Goal—Chicago 11-13-10—34. Philadelphia 8-10-13—31. Power-play opportunities—Chicago 1 of 3; Philadelphia 1 of 6. Goalies—Chicago, Niemi 14-6-0 (30 shots-26 saves). Philadelphia, Leighton 8-2-0 (34-31).
Lightning: The team has hired Pat Verbeek as a pro scout, the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press reported. There was no confirmation from the Lightning. It is the first hire for new general manager Steve Yzerman. Verbeek, 46, spent the past four years as a scout in Detroit. He played 21 seasons and was a teammate of Yzerman's from 1999-2001 with Detroit.
Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.