The Blackhawks hang on to win a wild Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, 6-5 over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Chicago goalie Antti Niemi wasn't perfect, but he made enough big stops to help the Blackhawks take a series lead on their home ice.
Center Dave Bolland said the Blackhawks didn't come out and set the tempo like they usually do.
The Flyers might have a goalie controversy. With the game slipping away, coach Peter Laviolette decided to be proactive and yank Michael Leighton for former starter Brian Boucher. Now we wait to see who will start Game 2 on Monday in Chicago.
Whew! Almost went 10 minutes in a period without a goal. Almost.
Tomas Kopecky showed some incredible patience, sticking with the puck and sneaking it past Flyers goalie Brian Boucher for a 6-5 lead with 11:35 left in regulation of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Boucher had made a pair of sensational saves in place of Michael Leighton. When the Flyers just stood around and failed the clear the puck, Kopecky had an open look for a stunning 6-5 lead.
Kopecky took the place of injured forward Andrew Ladd, who was hurt in the Blackhawks' clinching win over San Jose in the Western Conference finals. Ladd has not been able to practice this week, but hopes to play in the series.
Does the NHL want ratings? Does the NHL want more excitement? Yeah. Then just make every game like Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Arron Asham took a one-timer from Danny Briere to put the puck past Blackhawks Antti Niemi and tie the game at 5 with 1:11 left in the second period.
Will the Blackhawks pull Niemi like the Flyers yanked goalie Michael Leighton?
It stayed tied at 5 going into the second intermission. Both teams combined for 50 shots in the first two periods — 20 percent went in.
Fans for both teams must have sore hands from all the high-fiving.
The next 20 minutes are shaping up to be wild ones.
The Blackhawks grabbed a 5-4 lead in the second period and sent Flyers goalie Michael Leighton to the bench.
Troy Brouwer put a shot over Leighton's glove to help the Blackhawks take control. It was Brouwer's second goal of the night and fourth of the playoffs.
Brian Boucher came off the bench to relieve Leighton. He played for the first time since sustaining a knee injury in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Boucher was 6-4 with a 2.33 goals against average in the postseason before he was injured.
The Flyers might have a goalie controversy on their hands.
And they might have a Game 1 loss if they can't get going against Chicago.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette had to smile just a bit with Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals tied at 4-all in the second period. No one could have expected this slugfest.
Laviolette said during a brief midgame interview this isn't what either team drew up on the chalkboard. He wants the Flyers to tighten up in front of the net and protect goalie Michael Leighton.
The Flyers have coughed up three leads, so far. Leighton allowed four goals on the first 18 shots he faced. He looks nothing like the goalie who had three shutouts in the Eastern Conference finals.
The final score of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals might more resemble Bears-Eagles than a typical NHL game.
Blair Betts gave the Flyers a 4-3 lead in the second period. He fired a quick slapper that went off the post and past stunned Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi.
Betts scored his first playoff goal of the season.
Roy Halladay threw a perfect game for the Phillies, and neither the Blackhawks nor the Flyers can play even a few perfect minutes.
Kris Versteeg took advantage of a very shaky Michael Leighton when he knocked in the tying goal from the crease. It was 4-4 and no one — not a player, a fan, a beer vendor — had a moment to catch their breath.
Wow. Well so much for the Flyers' day as talk of the town.
Roy Halladay has pitched a perfect game for the Philadelphia Phillies. He went 27 up, 27 down in Miami against the Florida Marlins.
Maybe the Flyers got caught up in watching the game during intermission. Patrick Sharp scored his eighth goal of the playoffs to help the Blackhawks tie the game at 3 early in the second period.
The Flyers outshot the Blackhawks 17-9 in the first period. The Blackhawks had the edge in faceoffs, 20-8.
Philadelphia was painted orange-and-black on Saturday. Take a leisurely stroll around the zoo or stop to eat at a burger joint and fans everywhere were in Flyers T-shirts, jerseys and hats. It looked like a clubhouse store come to life.
Some of those ol' Broad Street Bullies made appearances and signed autographs throughout the week.
Around town, they call it getting "Flyer'd Up!"
Nothing could upstage Flyers fever, right?
Uh, not so fast.
Phillies ace Roy Halladay has a perfect game through eight innings against the Marlins in Florida.
The Flyers might not even get the back page of the newspaper or be the top sports story on the news even if they win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Either way, it's not a bad time to be a Philadelphia sports fan.
Danny Briere has struck again. One of the smallest players on the ice, no one has come up bigger with clutch goals this postseason for the Flyers than Briere.
His 10th goal of the postseason with 26.1 seconds left in the first period gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead over the Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi appeared to lose his balance, and Briere got the puck up and over him.
Neither team scored again and the Flyers carried a one-goal lead into the first intermission.
It's turned into a slugfest in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell snapped in a rebound to make it 2-2. It's the Flyers' first power-play goal since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. Montreal.
There's been no momentum, no time to enjoy goals. Flyers goalie Michael Leighton and Chicago counterpart Antti Niemi might have some first-game jitters.
Hartnell has four goals and nine points in these playoffs.
The goals are flying fast in Game 1.
Dave Bolland scored a short-handed goal for the Blackhawks to give them a 2-1 lead. It was his sixth of the playoffs and second short-handed.
Bolland grabbed a rolling puck — think of it as a roller skate wheel — settled it down and fired it past goalie Michael Leighton.
The Chicago crowd erupted and started antagonizing Leighton with chants of "Leigh-ton! Leigh-ton!"
No surprise it was short-handed. The Blackhawks led the NHL with 13 short-handed goals this season and have four more in the playoffs.
The Flyers scored first in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, but their lead didn't last long.
Ville Leino netted his fifth goal of the playoffs early in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Philadelphia stayed in front for only 1:08.
Troy Brouwer quickly tied it on a goal from the high slot, wiping out the Flyers' momentum.
Two quick scores gave Game 1 some early juice.
The Flyers are the first team to waste a power play. Former Flyers forward Ben Eager got whistled for cross-checking Philadelphia's Arron Asham and was sent to the box.
Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi stopped Philadelphia's only shot.
Niemi has been sensational this postseason. He's 12-4 with two shutouts and a 2.33 goals against average. He's in his first full NHL season — at 26 years old.
Niemi played three seasons in Finland and another full season in the AHL before he was called up to Chicago this season.
The Stanley Cup finals are under way.
Here are some likely candidates to score the first goal: Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien has five goals in the last five games. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have seven goals each for the Blackhawks.
Danny Briere had nine goals, and Claude Giroux has eight for the Flyers in the postseason.
The Flyers have something going for them now they didn't have much of the rest of the postseason.
Forwards Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Ian Laperriere all missed chunks of time with various injuries over the last six weeks. The Flyers lost 51 man games to injury during the first 17 games of the playoffs.Ouch!
The Flyers got more good news before Saturday's Game 1 against Chicago. Goalie Brian Boucher is back on the active roster and is serving as the backup to Michael Leighton in the opener. He won't be needed to play if Leighton keeps his hot streak going.
When Boucher injured a knee during the Eastern Conference finals, Leighton took over and led the Flyers to the Cup finals. He was the first Flyers goalie with three shutouts in one series, doing it in the conference finals vs. Montreal.
Leighton might have some added incentive to beat the Blackhawks. He was drafted by Chicago 11 years ago.
The Flyers and Blackhawks are about to face off in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
One of these proud franchises will see their championship drought end. The Flyers haven't won since the heyday of the Broad Street Bullies. They won consecutive Cup titles in 1974 and 1975 then, nothing. They've dropped their last five Stanley Cup appearances and were swept there the last time in 1997.
But not as bad as the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks are searching for their first title since the days of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita in 1961.
Each city has celebrated championships in all the other three major sports since they last won a hockey title.
The Flyers are the underdog in this series. But after pulling one of the great upsets in sports history, who would count them out? Led by captain Mike Richards, they rallied from a 3-0 hole to beat Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals. That hadn't been done by any NHL team in 35 years — also the last time the Flyers won the Cup.
Coincidence or a sign of a date with destiny?
Chicago's appearance in the finals is its first since 1992. They're relying on more than Patrick Kane and 22-year-old captain Jonathan Toews to win the Cup. They want some good luck from Air Jordan. The famous Michael Jordan statue now has a hockey helmet and Blackhawks jersey.
Be like Mike? The Blackhawks are about to find out.