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Philadelphia Flyers right wing Claude Giroux, left, celebrates with Danny Briere, center, and Chris Pronger, right, after Giroux scored the game-winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey finals Wednesday, June 2, 2010, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 4-3. The Blackhawks lead the series 2-1. (Mel Evans)
Philadelphia Flyers right wing Claude Giroux, left, celebrates with Danny Briere, center, and Chris Pronger, right, after Giroux scored the game-winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey finals Wednesday, June 2, 2010, in Philadelphia. The Flyers won 4-3. The Blackhawks lead the series 2-1. (Mel Evans)

Cup final analysis: Game 3 breakdown Add to ...

This was more the game the Philadelphia Flyers were looking for.

With a lead in the first two games for a total of only 4 minutes, 57 seconds, Philadelphia was able to get ahead 1-0 and 2-1 midway through the first and second periods in Game 3, and then carried the balance of play in the third in outshooting the Chicago Blackhawks 15-4.

After weathering an early Chicago storm in overtime, the Flyers capitalized quickly on their only shot on goal in the extra frame when Claude Giroux slid behind the defence and tipped in a Matt Carle point shot.

One of Philadelphia's key advantages in Game 3 continued to be on the power play, where they scored their third and fourth goals of the series in the early going to put the Blackhawks on the ropes. (Those leads didn't last long, but at least they had them.)

Chicago, meanwhile, is still looking for its first goal with the man advantage, one area it needs to improve.

Flyers netminder Michael Leighton struggled on a couple of the goals in this one, but his defence - namely Chris Pronger and his 32 minutes of ice time - came up big, allowing only six shots against in the final 26 minutes.

Pronger finished plus-2 and is a plus-3 overall in the series while logging big minutes against Chicago's top line, which finally made an impact when Patrick Kane scored his first of the series early in the third.

The Blackhawks' incredible depth, meanwhile, played a role in keeping this game close, as they got three goals from three different goal scorers. In the series, 10 different Blackhawks have chipped in with their 11 goals.

Philadelphia's depth was a big factor, too, as its top line continued to struggle to make an impact on the scoresheet when matched against Canadian Olympians Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Mike Richards all went pointless, and the Flyers' offence would have been grounded if not for big contributions from second- and third-liners like Scott Hartnell, Ville Leino, Danny Briere and Giroux.

The Flyers, however, still desperately need an arrival from their big guns if they're going to win the series.

The Hero: Claude Giroux

After struggling without a point and as a minus-3 in the first two games, Giroux shed the goat horns in a big way in Game 3, picking up two assists in regulation and tipping in the winning goal six minutes into overtime.

Giroux's unexpected point-per-game offence was a huge part of the Flyers' success in earlier rounds, but he has struggled in the finals in part due to being played with poor linemates like Arron Asham and Dan Carcillo. In the extra frame, however, he got a chance to skate with Danny Briere and it was Briere who setup defenceman Matt Carle's shot/pass from the point.

Giroux, in the slot, got his stick on it, and as a result, his team remains alive.

The Goat: Dustin Byfuglien

Ineffective offensively so far in the series, Byfuglien emerged as a liability in Game 3, taking two careless penalties (the second of which led to the Flyers' second goal) and finishing the game without a point and only one shot on goal despite nearly 19 minutes of ice time.

Coming into the finals, Byfuglien had eight goals and 10 points in his last eight games, but his struggles may lead to Chicago coach Joel Quenneville shaking up his top line for Game 4 and getting someone like Troy Brouwer or Patrick Sharp with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, two potential trios that played together during the season.

Three Stars

1. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia 2. Duncan Keith, Chicago 3. Ville Leino, Philadelphia

Game 3: By the numbers

8-1: The Flyers' record at home, the best in the league. Philadelphia has outscored its opponents in those nine games 32-17.

7-1: The Blackhawks' record on the road going into Game 3, including a seven-game road winning streak since the first round that tied the NHL record (but was snapped by the Flyers). Chicago had outscored its opponents in its first eight road games 32-17.

23: Years since the Flyers won a game in the Stanley Cup final. Philadelphia was swept in its last appearance in the finals by the Detroit Red Wings (1997) and last won against the Edmonton Oilers in Game 6 of the 1987 finals.

26: Points in the first three rounds (16 games) for Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, a 133-point pace over an 82-game season. Toews, who has been matched up against Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger, has only one point in the finals - an assist on Patrick Kane's breakaway goal in Game 3.

0.75: Flyers netminder Michael Leighton's goals-against average at home prior to Game 3. Leighton had a 4-0 record and a .974 save percentage at the Wachovia Center coming in, having allowed only three goals on 116 shots against.

Game 4 preview

Philadelphia's back in the series - but maybe only for another night. Game 4 on Friday has to be seen as yet another must-win tilt given the Flyers hardly want to go down 3-1 heading back to Chicago.

At the very least, the pace of Game 3 - and the play of some Flyers like Giroux - means this series is starting to get really interesting.

Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

 

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