It took a little longer this time - 1 minute 51 seconds to be exact - but Michael Leighton once again was the first goaltender to crack.
He let in two goals in 28 seconds late in the second period Monday night to let the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. That gave the Blackhawks a 2-0 series lead.
Once again the question for Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette will be if he should turn the goaltender's job over to backup Brian Boucher.
Laviolette, though, thought the difference was due to Blackhawks goaltender Antti Niemi, who was outstanding in the third period as the Flyers fought hard in a failing effort to get the equalizer. Niemi finished with 32 saves compared to 24 for Leighton.
"I'm not sure we should be frustrated," Laviolette said. "I'm not sure we were outplayed. I thought their goaltender played very well in the third period."
Given the Blackhawks' 6-5 win in the opening game of the series few were expecting the second game to turn into a goaltenders' duel. But it did, at least until 17 minutes into the second period when Leighton coughed up goals to Marian Hossa and Ben Eager in the space of 28 seconds to give the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead.
Up to that point, Leighton was much better than he was in Game 1 when he was chased from the net at 15:18 of the second period. But this time around he could only make it a little longer - to 17:09 of the second - before disaster struck. He wasn't pulled this time, but the damage was the same.
Once again, with the top stars of both teams held in check the outcome rested on the secondary scorers. And, once again, Hossa and linemates Patrick Sharp and Troy Brouwer made the difference.
Even though Hossa was the best player on the ice for the second game it was his first goal since May 5, a span of eight games.
"Yeah, it bugged me, definitely," he said of the drought. "You try to create offence and the puck doesn't want to get in.
"You try not to get frustrated, but it does get in your head."
Laviolette can take a share of the blame for that goal. He had his third defence pair of Lukas Krajicek and Oskars Bartulis out against Hossa's line and passed up a chance to change them on a faceoff even though he had been taking care to stick with his top four defencemen so far in the series. Krajicek and Bartulis were unable to clear the puck and unable to outmuscle Hossa at the crease.
"It seemed like we had coverage and positioning. We just didn't tie [the puck] up," Laviolette said. "First, we have trust in all our defencemen out there. We look to keep them away from certain people when we can. Our coverage was there, man-on-man."
Leighton was not at fault for Hossa's goal, as the Blackhawks winger swatted in a loose puck, but Eager's goal was not pretty. The big winger fired a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle. It was not a bullet, but Leighton completely whiffed on it with his catching glove.
Jeff Carter scored a power-play goal for the Flyers early in the third period to bring the Flyers to within a goal of the Blackhawks.
It became apparent from the opening faceoff that this game was going to be far different than the mistake-filled 6-5 Blackhawks win in the series opener. With the Flyers adding Daniel Carcillo to the lineup, everyone expected the nastiness quotient to rise dramatically and they were not disappointed.
Carcillo, the hockey equivalent of a yappy dog who is addicted to chasing cars, was in top form. He had something to say to just about everybody and quickly set about throwing his body at everyone in a red sweater.
The Blackhawks answered the Flyers in kind and the first period was quickly an emotional, hard-hitting affair.
It ended that way, too, when Eager confronted Flyer defenceman Chris Pronger at the end of the game when he tried to pocket the game puck. Eager did not have much to say about it later.
"It was just a little post-game chat," Eager said. "It was nothing He's been picking up the pucks after the game and I just told him he can keep it."Report Typo/Error