Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, who hasn't been as strong in the Stanley Cup Finals as he was in the previous playoff series, continued his amazing home success Wednesday night.
Entering Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks, Leighton had posted a 4-0 record with a 0.75 goals-against average and .974 save percentage in four playoff starts at the Wachovia Center this spring.
After allowing five goals and being pulled late in the second period of Game 1, Leighton was better in Game 2, a 2-1 loss.
"I wanted to kind of respond from being pulled. So I knew I had to be good early and obviously gain some confidence back in the team," Leighton said on Tuesday. "We played a lot better game defensively [in Game 2], and we did a lot of good things in front of me. That's definitely a positive. We have to carry that over to the next game."
Leighton looked sharp in the first period Wednesday as he made all nine stops. He also was a little lucky: Patrick Kane's rebound went off the left post with 7 minutes, 15 seconds left in the opening period.
A little over two minutes later, Danny Briere's power-play goal gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
In the 2010 playoffs, Chicago has been better on the road (7-2 after Wednesday) than at home (7-3).
The Blackhawks had won seven straight road games during the playoffs - tying an NHL record - heading into Wednesday's contest at the Wachovia Center.
John Madden, Chicago's veteran center, said the Hawks play "a more simple game" on the road.
"We're not so worried about line matches. We're not so worried about certain things. We're just out there playing hockey and sticking together," Madden said before Wednesday's game. "When we're able to play a simple game, we seem to be able to roll the lines and have better forechecking and just keep playing."
Chicago forward Patrick Sharp gave another theory on the Hawks' road success.
"I just think that we're a team that gets along well off the ice, and we enjoy each other's companies, especially in the playoffs," he said. "Not much to worry about in hockey except hockey, and that's what the focus is."
The players' camaraderie "sometimes translates on the ice," he said.
Quick on the draw
Blair Betts entered Wednesday as the only Flyer who had won at least 50 percent of his face-offs in the playoffs.
Betts had won 54.2 percent of his draws.
The Blackhawks had three players who had won at least half of their face-offs in their first 18 playoff games: Jonathan Toews (59.3 percent), Madden (52.3 percent), and Sharp (50 percent).
The Blackhawks seemed amused by comments Flyers coach Peter Laviolette made on Tuesday, trying to rattle Chicago goalie Antti Niemi.
Laviolette noted Niemi was only a rookie and that "we have to give him a crack of doubt." He also turned up the heat by saying Chicago hasn't won a Cup in almost 50 years.
"It seems like all season people have been waiting for Antti to slow down and show he's a rookie," said Sharp, a former Flyer. "It seems he's been getting better and better all season long. I know he's definitely got the confidence of us as a team in the locker room, and I think he's starting to prove to everybody else what kind of quality goaltender he is."
Madden on what he remembers about playing at the Wachovia Center from his days with New Jersey: "They're definitely loud. They're definitely into the game, and it's safer to be playing on the ice than to be a Chicago fan in the stands; I can say that."
On average, fans are paying $587 on StubHub for the Flyers' potential three home Finals games, while they are paying $766 for the Blackhawks' potential four home games, according to a spokeswoman for the ticket agency.
Entering Wednesday, Chris Pronger led NHL players in average time on ice (28:56 per game) during the playoffs. . . . After Game 3, the Flyers have an 87-22-4 lifetime record when Kate Smith's "God Bless America" rendition was played before games. . . . The Flyers have tied a club record, set in 1975, with five shutouts during the playoffs. . . . Entering Game 3, Claude Giroux (plus-7), Matt Carle (plus-7), Briere (plus-6), Ville Leino (plus-5), and Kimmo Timonen (plus-5) were the Flyers' plus-minus leaders in the playoffs. . . . Ian Laperriere discarded his full face shield and went with a half-shield. . . . Referee Bill McCreary on Wednesday worked his 43d Finals game, an NHL record.