CHICAGO - Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville can mix up lines to his heart's content if it keeps getting results like this.
Chicago players said personnel changes and line shifts made no difference last night as the Hawks claimed a 7-4 victory over the Flyers and moved to within one win of their first Stanley Cup since 1961.
"I think Joel has had a good feel for changes and adjustments throughout the series and I thought the guys responded well and had a great first period," said veteran Patrick Sharp, who collected a goal and an assist. "We're comfortable playing with just about everybody."
Burly forward Dustin Byfuglien, who usually plays with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, had two goals and a pair of assists. Last night, Kane played on a different line.
"We didn't have too much production out of us and we had to change things up," Byfuglien said. "We didn't really have time to think about who we're playing with. All year, we've mixed the lines around and everyone's played with everyone so it wasn't a real big thing."
Quenneville said before yesterday's game that he had no problem making what he called tweaks.
"I think we have a lot of options as far as moving guys in and out and around in our lineup," he said.
Those other options grabbed the early spotlight as Chicago aggressively outplayed the Flyers on the way to a 3-0 first-period lead.
Brent Seabrook, Dave Bolland and Kris Versteeg all scored as the Blackhawks outshot the Flyers, 13-7, a deceptively close statistic since the Flyers actually had very few good chances on Chicago goalie Antti Niemi.
Toews, Kane and Byfuglien were back together twice in the first period when Chicago had its first two power plays.
But the trio was on the bench when Chicago finally broke out of at least one slump when Seabrook scored during the second power play at the 12:17 mark.
Versteeg passed from in back of the net to Seabrook, who maneuvered near the right faceoff circle, then fired past Flyers goalie Michael Leighton for only the second Blackhawks power-play goal in five games in the finals.
Bolland collected his eighth playoff goal 3 minutes later and the teams were at even strength when Versteeg dumped a shot past Leighton to make it 3-0 at 18:15 as Byfuglien and Seabrook assisted.
Kane, skating on a line with Andrew Ladd and Sharp, joined the fun at 3:13 of the second period with his second goal of the finals as Chicago moved out to a 4-1 lead.
He beat Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, who replaced Leighton to begin the second period, on a shot nearly down the line from Boucher's right after a feed from Ladd.
Byfuglien scored on a power play late in the second period on a nifty pass from Toews as Chicago opened a 5-2 lead. With less than 4 minutes left in regulation, Kane fed and Sharp scored as the Blackhawks made it 6-3.
After Simon Gagne temporarily cut the margin to two goals at 6-4, a Byfuglien empty-netter at 17:55 made it 7-4, the most goals Chicago has scored since Game 1.
Toews' assist was his 21st of the postseason and gives him 28 points for the playoffs. He's now the team's all-time playoff assist leader and is just one shy of the Blackhawks franchise record for postseason scoring.
"The line changes obviously looked like a good thing, but the No. 1 thing was the way we played as a team," Toews said. "It doesn't matter who you play with, you have to go out there and make a difference.