Revamped and re-energized, Blackhawks dominate Flyers

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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Chicago can bring 49-year Cup drought to an end with victory in Philadelphia on Wednesday

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

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

Chicago Blackhawks center Patrick Sharp (10) and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Carle (25) fight for the puck during Game 5 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey finals Sunday in Chicago. Sharp scored once in the Blackhawks' 7-4 win. Photo by The Associated

CHICAGO -

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

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.

"We got outworked pretty good," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "We got outbattled. They were quicker to loose pucks. Quicker on the forecheck."

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 final.

Leighton was pulled - for the second time in the series in favour 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 home just 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 final 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 uncovered to beat Boucher for a 4-1 lead.

But as they have done throughout the series, the tough Flyers responded quickly to a Chicago goal 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.

"I think Buff has been a big factor as we've gone along here in these playoffs," Quenneville said. "I still thought he had a presence early in the first two games here at home. Maybe the last couple didn't make as much noise.

"But I thought he was a factor like he's been probably in all the games in the last couple of rounds going into this round. I thought he made a big imprint in the outcome in the game tonight."

Before the goal, Niemi made a great pad save on a point-blank attempt by Mike Richards during a Flyers power play, keeping it a two-goal game.

Van Riemsdyk scored on a rebound in the final period to cut Chicago's lead to two and Niemi made another nice stop on Richards with about five minutes left.

Kane then skated down the left side and made a nice feed to Sharp. That gave the Blackhawks a four-goal lead with just under four minutes left.

Aggressive from the outset, shooting from all angles, getting the puck through the neutral zone and able to keep their own end clear, the Blackhawks were in control early after two losses in Philadelphia that appeared to swing the momentum in the Flyers' favour.

On a power play, Seabrook took a nice pass from Versteeg, who had skated behind the net, lined it up from the left circle and beat Leighton for a 1-0 lead. The Blackhawks had entered the game just 1 for 9 on the power play in the series.

With a delayed penalty about to be called on the Flyers, Bolland gathered the puck as it bounced off the boards behind the net and then shovelled it in off Leighton's skate for a two-goal advantage.

About two minutes later, Versteeg took a pass at centre ice, skated high between the circles and rifled the puck past Leighton for a 3-0 lead.

Leighton withstood a furious early attack with a great stop on Sharp, as Chicago had a quick 6-1 shots advantage, but the Blackhawks kept coming. Chicago finished the period with a 13-7 advantage.

Quenneville, as he did late in Game 4, broke up the Blackhawks' struggling first line of Kane, Toews and Byfuglien, who had combined for only one goal and four assists in the first four games.

But this time he shuffled it even more with Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky joining Toews to start the game. Kane skated with Ladd and Sharp, and Byfuglien was teamed with Versteeg and Bolland.

Organizations: Chicago Blackhawks, Flyers, United Center

Geographic location: Chicago, Philadelphia

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