CHICAGO - Flyers captain Mike Richards slammed his stick across the crossbar, shattering it in half late in Saturday night's wild Stanley Cup Finals opener.

Tomas Kopecky's goal was the reason for his disgust.

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Added to the lineup because of an injury to left winger Andrew Ladd, Kopecky scored after skating inside the left circle and beating Brian Boucher with 11 minutes, 35 seconds left.

The goal snapped a 5-5 tie and paved the way for the Chicago Blackhawks' 6-5 victory in Game 1 at the frenzied United Center.

"Shoot-out at the OK Corral," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said after the most goals in a Finals game in 18 years. "We stressed a defense-first approach, but I think we got away from it tonight."

Ditto for the Flyers, who were lax in their own zone and allowed the Blackhawks to crash the net with ease.

"We realize we can score goals, but it's a matter of better coverage in our own zone," said Flyers center Danny Briere, who collected a goal and three assists. "That's why we lost the game."

The Flyers wasted great efforts by Briere and linemates Scott Hartnell (goal, three points) and Ville Leino (goal, assist), and they will need to dig out of a hole if they are going to win their first Stanley Cup in 35 years. Game 2 will be Monday night in Chicago.

The Blackhawks, trying to capture their first Cup since 1961, chased starting goalie Michael Leighton (five goals on 20 shots) late in the second period.

"I've got to make a few of those saves," Leighton said.

"We didn't give him much help," Richards said.

After defenseman Brent Seabrook kept the puck in the zone with a nice play at the blue line, Kris Versteeg found Kopecky on the left side for the winner.

"Koppy did a great job of stepping up," said Chicago center Dave Bolland, who scored a shorthanded goal and helped the Hawks keep Richards' line scoreless.

Hawks goalie Antti Niemi had a difficult night, but he was flawless in the final period, and he made the critical save on Briere's ticketed drive from the high slot with 2:06 left. Niemi finished with 27 saves.

The Flyers have lost six straight Finals games since 1987, when they defeated Edmonton, 3-2, on a late goal by J.J. Daigneault in Game 6 at the Spectrum.

"The slot looked pretty open for them, and they got at least three or four goals in their slot, wide open," left winger Simon Gagne said.

Before the game, Laviolette noted that some of his players had waited their whole lives to play in the Finals.

Briere waited 12 years before he played in the Finals, and he made his first appearance an impressive one. The 32-year-old center gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead when he scored on a rebound from the low slot with 26.1 seconds remaining in the first period.

"I kind of missed my shot and the puck, somehow, I don't know how, bounced back to me, and I had the empty net," Briere said.

It marked the first time since 1982 (Vancouver vs. the Islanders) that teams had combined for five goals in the first period of a Finals game.

Chicago, which committed all four of the game's penalties but still managed its first Finals win since 1973, tied it at 3 when former Flyer Patrick Sharp beat Leighton on a high shot to the short side after 1:11 of the second period.

But another of the Flyers' veterans, Blair Betts, gave his team a brief 4-3 lead when his shot from the right circle caromed off the left goalpost and into the net with 12:40 to go in the second. Arron Asham tied up defenseman Brian Campbell in the corner, enabling Betts to pick up the loose puck and get off a quick shot.

A little over two minutes later, Versteeg tied it at 4 by scoring on his own rebound.

Some loose defensive play allowed Troy Brouwer to be left alone in front, and he beat Leighton for his second goal of the night with 4:42 remaining in the second. That gave Chicago a 5-4 lead.

Exit the shaky Leighton.

Enter Boucher, who was dressing for the first time since he injured both knees against Boston on May 10.

The Flyers tied it at 5 as Asham, set up by Briere, scored on a laser from the left circle with 1:11 left in the second.

Kopecky's fourth playoff goal this year ended the scoring on a night when there was a lot of bad defense, and a lot of physical play by massive Chicago winger Dustin Byfuglien (10 hits but minus-3).

There was also subpar goaltending - on both sides - as the teams tried to take an important first step toward the Cup. Since 1939, teams winning Game 1 have captured 54 of the 70 Stanley Cups (77 percent).

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.