Chicago's first two goals in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals came not from any of the Blackhawks' leading scorers but from two defensemen more accustomed to playing in the shadow of Jonathan Toews and Co.
Duncan Keith and Brent Sopel scored to keep the Blackhawks close and help force overtime in a game the Flyer won, 4-3, Wednesday night at the Wachovia Center.
Keith, missing seven teeth after getting drilled in the mouth by a slapshot in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against San Jose, accepted a left-to-right feed from winger Patrick Kane and beat Michael Leighton with a slapshot 2 minutes, 49 seconds into the second period. His second goal of the playoffs made it 1-1.
Keith, expected to undergo extensive dental surgery in the off-season, has posted 10 assists in 19 playoff appearances.
Sopel posted Chicago's other second-period score, finding the mark on a left-side slapshot. His score, assisted by John Madden, was his first in the playoffs. The 33-year-old defenseman had scored just once in 73 regular-season games.
In the first two periods, "it was the way we wanted to begin the game, and [we] did some good things," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We were dangerous in a lot of ways."
No matter how Chicago ultimately fares against the Flyers, Keith's improbable return from injury last month will long be remembered by fans in the Windy City. After a Patrick Marleau slapshot struck him, No. 2's teeth began dropping to the ice.
"I took one breath and I felt like my whole mouth was missing, so I knew there was some teeth gone," Keith said after the sweep of the Sharks moved the Blackhawks closer to claiming their first Stanley Cup since 1961. "I'll take all my teeth as long as we can keep winning in the playoffs."
Keith's amazing same-game return has resulted in a cultlike fan following. Before Game 3, a Facebook group called Duncan Keith's Missing Teeth had more than 6,000 members.
Keith, selected 54th overall in the 2002 entry draft, finished the regular season with 69 points. He is a finalist for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL's top defenseman.
Claude Giroux's goal in overtime snapped the Blackhawks' seven-game road winning streak. Away from the United Center, Chicago has outscored foes by 35-21 in the playoffs.
On the Flyers' first goal, Danny Briere, positioned to the right of goalkeeper Antti Niemi, cashed in a perfect cross from a sprawling Scott Hartnell before defenseman Brent Seabrook and winger Troy Brouwer could get to him.
The Blackhawks, 14-5 in the playoffs, failed to capitalize on their only first-period power-play, which came as a result of a two-minute charging call on Dan Carcillo.
Kane's third-period goal, which provided a Chicago lead for all of 20 seconds, was his first since a Round 2 series-clinching win over Vancouver on May 11. He has 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in the postseason.