CHICAGO - A few minutes after the Flyers had survived a frantic Chicago rally and tied the Stanley Cup Finals at two games apiece late Friday, Peter Luukko, president of the franchise's parent company, looked exhausted as he congratulated the players outside the locker room.
"Feel like you can breathe yet?" he was asked.
"Not really," Luukko replied with a smile.
The ending was that draining.
One minute, the Flyers were ahead by 4-1 and coasting. A few minutes later, they were clinging to a 4-3 lead and couldn't seem to win a face-off or get the puck out of their zone.
But they held on, got an empty-net goal from Jeff Carter to make it 5-3, and moved to within two wins of their first Stanley Cup since 1975.
The question is, will Chicago's late surge give the Hawks momentum going into Sunday night's Game 5 at the United Center?
"Obviously, we have to take the positive from the last 10 minutes of the third," Chicago defenseman Brent Sopel said. "We started moving our feet well and getting pucks in deep. That's something we need to do for 60 minutes."
"We'll be looking to have that kind of pressure right off the top in Game 5," Blackhawks winger Andrew Ladd said, " . . . and tighten up a little bit better defensively."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette doesn't buy the theory that momentum can carry from one game to another.
"It changes from shift to shift," he said.
But Claude Giroux, the irrepressible second-year center, thought the Flyers' dominating first period in Game 4 - they built a 3-1 lead - was a direct result of their strong third period and overtime in Game 3's 4-3 win.
"The momentum carried over," he said.
Giroux, who has 10 playoff goals, said the Flyers played too conservatively in the third period Friday - and can't fall into that style Sunday.
"We laid back a little more and didn't forecheck the way we did in the first two periods," he said.
This series has been about as even as possible. Each team has two home wins. Excluding Carter's empty-net score, each team has 14 goals.
Chicago has been the better team in even-strength situations, outscoring the Flyers, 12-9. (The Hawks also have a shorthanded goal.) The Flyers have been stronger on the power play, outscoring the Hawks, 5-1.
Friday, the Flyers blocked 28 shots - 17 more than Chicago.
Two of the Flyers' four core defensemen - Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle, and Braydon Coburn - always seemed to be on the ice, making key plays.
Pronger had six hits, three blocked shots, and a plus-four rating. Timonen had five blocks and four hits, Carle contributed a goal and four blocks, and Coburn had five hits and four blocks.
"Defense all year has been our strong point," center Mike Richards said.
The Flyers have shut down Chicago's top line - Jonathan Toews and wingers Patrick Kane and Dustin "Big Buff" Byfuglien - for almost the entire series. The unit has combined for one goal in the four Finals games.
If that trend continues - and if goalie Michael Leighton can build off his strong performance in Game 4 - the Flyers think they can steal a game in Chicago.
That's mandatory, of course, if they are going to win their first Cup in 35 years.
For the Flyers, the good news is that they easily could have won one of the first two games in Chicago, where they dropped hard-fought 6-5 and 2-1 decisions.
The bad news is that they have been an awful road team in their Finals history.
The Flyers are 1-15 on the road since they won the Cup with a 2-0 victory in Buffalo in 1975.
But all those Flyers teams that struggled on the road didn't have the X-factor, Pronger, whose composure seems to have spread to his teammates.
In the Finals, Pronger is plus-7, tops among all players.
The 6-foot-6 defenseman, who has led Edmonton, Anaheim, and the Flyers to the Finals in his first season with those teams, thrives in pressure situations - and clearly enjoys the spotlight.
If the Flyers are going to hoist the Cup, it will be largely because of Pronger's presence. And because of the way he has tormented Toews' line with his physical play.
"It's frustrating, but what are you going to do?" said Toews, goalless in the Finals. "You're not going to sit there and cry about it. You keep going out there the next shift, and you try to do something. The second you start scoring goals, people get off your back."
Because of Pronger's dominance, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville, whose franchise hasn't won the Cup since 1961, dropped strong hints Saturday that he would split up the Byfuglien-Toews-Kane line in Game 5 to get some of the players separated from the defenseman. He broke up the line late in Game 4, resulting in some success.