Once again, Claude Giroux rescued the Flyers' season.
On the last day of the regular season, you'll recall, it was Giroux who scored the deciding goal in the shoot-out against the New York Rangers. That goal _ and a save by Brian Boucher _ enabled the Flyers to qualify for the playoffs.
Giroux was a difference-maker again on Wednesday night as he scored in OT to lift the Flyers to a desperately needed 4-3 win over the Chiago Blackhawks. The win cut the Hawks' lead to two games to one in the Stanley Cup Finals.
In the fist two games of the Finals, Giroux was tentative; he was scoreless and registered a minus-3 rating.
That prompted coach Peter Laviolette to sit down with his blossoming young star early Wednesday in an attempt to relax the 22-year-old center.
"I think he loosened up a bit," Laviolette said.
And tightened the Stanley Cup Finals.
Besides the game-winner, Giroux added two assists before a record Pennsylvania hockey crowd at the reverberating Wachovia Center.
The Flyers still trail in the series, but they may have been in a nearly impossible 3-0 hole if not for Giroux.
Laviolette said he tried to get Giroux "to lighten up a little….You have to remember, it's the Stanley Cup Finals" and young players are going to be nervous.
"At this point of the year, you know what you have to do in order to be successful. There's a lot of work. There's a lot of intensity," the coach said. "There's a lot of competiveness in the battles."
"In the same sense, if you tighten it up too much, you seize up a little bit," he added. "We talked about just having fun tonight, coming out and letting everything roll. Go after them and I think he took that advice because he was smiling all day."
"He came to the rink and went out and played a great game," Laviolette said. "Sometimes, you need to loosen up a little bit. He's a talented kid."
The win put the Flyers back in the series.
"It's huge. I don't think the guys wanted to come back again from 3-0" like they did against Boston in the conference semifinals, said Grioux, who said one of his close friends texted him earlier in the day and predicted he would score in overtime. "If we wanted a chance to win this series, we needed a win tonight….and the guys showed up."
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Breakaways. The Flyers had 40 hits _ nine more than Chicago. Scott Hartnell (6 hits), Darrroll Powe (6), Braydon Coburn (5) and Simon Gagne (5) led the hit parade…..Jeff Carter led the Flyers with six shots….Giroux and Pronger (five blocked shots) were each plus-2. Pronger on the Hawks: "There was a lot of talk coming from their side of the ice. We were just busy playing the game."….All three games have been decided by one goal….."We like our position," said Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith, who had a goal and played a team-high 30:20….Pronger (32:07) and Braydon Coburn (31:26) led the Flyers in time on the ice.
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