Claude Giroux is the reason the Flyers' remarkable postseason is not on life support.

The second-year center scored what he called the biggest goal of his young career, redirecting Matt Carle's pass past goalie Antti Niemi after 5 minutes, 59 seconds of overtime, giving the Flyers a desperately needed 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the frenzied Wachovia Center Wednesday night.

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The victory sliced Chicago's lead in the Stanley Cup Finals to two games to one.

"It's huge," said Giroux, who scored the winning goal in the shoot-out on the last day of the regular season, enabling the Flyers to qualify for the playoffs. "I don't think the guys wanted to come back again from 3-0" as they did in the conference semifinals against Boston.

"If we wanted a chance to win this series, we needed a win tonight . . . and the guys showed up."

Especially Giroux (three points), Scott Hartnell (goal, assist, six hits), Danny Briere (goal, assist), Ville Leino (goal), and Carle (two assists, four blocked shots).

Chris Pronger (five blocked shots, plus-2), Darroll Powe (six hits), and Braydon Coburn (five hits) were among the many other contributors.

It was the Flyers' first Finals victory since 1987, ending a seven-game losing streak in championship series. It also snapped the Hawks' seven-game road winning streak, which equaled an NHL playoff record.

"We're back in the game," said Leino, who played 23:12, tops among Flyers forwards. "This is a big confidence-builder for us."

The Flyers are 2-4 in overtime games in the Finals. Their only other win was in 1974, when Bobby Clarke's goal - one of the most famous in franchise history - gave them a Game 2 victory in Boston en route to their first Cup.

The Flyers, rebounding from a pair of one-goal losses in Chicago, are 7-18 in series in which they trail, two games to one.

But that's a lot better than the series record (1-6) when they fall into a 3-0 hole.

Climbing out once in this postseason was difficult enough. Doing it against the Hawks would have been virtually impossible.

Chicago, which had its seven-game road winning streak snapped, took a 3-2 lead when Patrick Kane beat Michael Leighton on a breakaway with 17:10 left in the third period. But Leino answered 20 seconds later, depositing a rebound after Giroux's shot bounced off a Hawks defenseman and took a fortuitous carom to the wide-open winger.

With the goal, Leino tied a franchise record for playoff points by a rookie, equaling the mark set by Brian Propp (15 points) in 1980.

Just like in Game 2, the Flyers dominated the third period. They outshot the Hawks by the identical third-period total on Wednesday - 15-4 - as they did on Monday.

Giroux's goal came 57 seconds after the Flyers came oh-so-close to winning it.

With 14:58 left in overtime, Niemi smothered a shot by Simon Gagne that was about to cross the goal line. It was reviewed and ruled no goal. (Jeff Carter put in the rebound, but it was after the whistle had blown.)

After the game, Giroux, 22, revealed that one of his good friends had texted him earlier in the day, predicting he would score the winner in overtime.

It was Giroux's ninth goal of the playoffs. When he was drafted a few years ago, then-GM Bob Clarke forgot his name when he was about to announce his selection.

"I thought it was pretty funny," Giroux said.

Hartnell, not exactly known for his playmaking, made a spectacular pass to set up the only goal of the first period - a power-play score by Briere.

Coburn's long shot went in and out of the glove of Niemi, and Hartnell pounced on the loose puck to the right of the goal and, while falling down, made a backhanded pass to Briere on the left side of the net.

Briere knocked it in for his 11th playoff goal, tops on the Flyers, with 5:02 left in the first period, igniting the Pennsylvania record hockey crowd of 20,291.

"The best part was when Scott Hartnell found the puck in the slot and just threw it back door. That's part of the chemistry you develop when you play a lot with the same guys," Briere said.

After Mike Richards barely missed connecting on a pair of power-play chances early in the second period, Chicago tied the game on a goal by defenseman Duncan Keith at 2:49.

The Flyers took the lead on a goal that didn't count until almost two minutes after it was scored.

Pronger's drive, tipped by Hartnell in front, went through Niemi's legs and off his pads before trickling toward the goal line. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson cleared it. The goal light did not go on until five seconds later, and play continued for nearly two minutes without a stoppage.

When there was finally a break in the action, the play was reviewed, and it showed the puck crossing the goal line by a few inches. The goal was counted, and the time that had elapsed was put back on the clock.

John Madden won a face-off from Richards and sent the puck back to defenseman Brent Sopel, who, firing from inside the right point, sent a shot past an apparently screened Leighton. Lukas Krajicek, Richards, and Gagne were all lined up in front of Leighton.

Last night's game ended too late for this edition. For coverage, go to http://go.philly.com/flyersEndText

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