Well, this already-tight series just got a little tighter.
The Flyers have pulled within 2-1 after their overtime victory at the Wachovia Center. Only four times in the history of the Stanley Cup finals have rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win the title. One of those was just last year, when the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied past the Detroit Red Wings.
Chicago was in the middle of a line change, creating enough open ice for Philly defenseman Matt Carle to jump into the middle of the play. He fired a shot that Claude Giroux redirected and goalie Antti Niemi got a piece of, but not enough to keep it out of the net. This came just a minute after a replay didn't favor the Flyers.
The horn went off again and the crowd went crazy, believing the Flyers had their first victory in the series, but cameras showed Simon Gagne's shot clearly failing to completely cross the goal line.
The puck bounced off Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland's stick, clanked against the right post and then somehow rolled straight along the line without sliding into the net as if there were an invisible forcefield preventing it from moving forward.
Overtime has begun.
Now that Patrick Kane has put a goal on the board for the Blackhawks, the first score in three games by their top line, it's worth looking harder at the first group for the Flyers.
Michael Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne are a combined minus-4 thus far tonight, and the trio has accumulated just one goal (by Gagne) and two assists — all in Game 2. Carter and Gagne have come back from injuries sustained earlier in the playoffs, but the captain Richards has been particularly absent from the action in this series after getting six goals and 15 goals in the first 18 postseason games.
The second line for the Flyers, though, has come through.
Scott Hartnell, Danny Briere and rookie Ville Leino has combined for six goals and seven assists in the series — including three scores tonight.
We're headed for bonus hockey.
The Blackhawks had a couple of close-in chances in the final minutes to punch one in past Michael Leighton, but they couldn't sneak them in. Through three periods, the Flyers have a 31-25 edge in shots on goal.
Philly has played three overtime games in the postseason this year, winning twice. Chicago's been there twice, with victories both times. Both teams looked tired in that final period, the obvious result of such an intense effort throughout most of the first part of the game. It will be interesting to see which side has the edge in overtime.
The first two games were decided by one goal, and this one is sure headed that way.
Chicago star Patrick Kane scored for the first time in this series on a breakaway after he beat Kimmo Timonen up the right wing and snapped the puck past Michael Leighton's pads for the visiting team's first lead of this game.
It lasted all of 20 seconds.
Right after Flyers fans were spotted in the crowd with deflated looks and sagged shoulders, Ville Leino sent a rebound past Antti Niemi to tie the game back up at 3. It came from a fortunate, pinball-machine bounce, when the puck glanced off the leg of Blackhawks defenseman Jordan Hendry, off Niemi's stick and straight to Leino.
That was Philly's first even-strength goal since the second period of Game 1.
So, about that crowd noise.
The NHL's website has been measuring the decibel levels during this series, resulting in some ear-splitting reports.
According to the meter used by the league, the decibel mark reached 122 during the national anthem before Game 2. Per Chicago tradition, the fans cheer all the way through the song, saving their best, throat-rattling roars for the last stanza.
Here's some perspective: Sustained exposure to sound between 90 and 95 decibels can cause hearing loss. At 125, pain begins.
The Philly fans picked up where their counterparts left off. Their cheers at the end of the Kate Smith-Lauren Hart rendition of "God Bless America" registered a 114. That's the equivalent of a loud rock concert.
The Flyers fans were roaring, too, when some of the old "Broad Street Bullies" were recognized before the game. The Blackhawks did the same thing with Stan Mikita, one of their stars of the early '60s, at the United Center. The Bullies led the Flyers to their last title, in 1975. Mikita and Bobby Hull fueled the last Cup won by the Hawks, in 1961.
Oh, and as the action resumes in the third period, here's an update: Official scorers have credited Philly's last goal to Scott Hartnell, instead of Chris Pronger. Hartnell has a goal and an assist.
It's tied up again, thanks to another sharp shot by a Blackhawks defenseman.
Brent Sopel let one fly that whizzed past Michael Leighton to make it 2-2, two minutes and change before the end of the second period. Leighton might have been screened a bit, with Flyers defenseman Lukas Krajicek standing in front of him.
This is a remarkable start to the Stanley Cup finals by the Blackhawks, who have yet to get a goal from anyone on their star-studded top line.
But even with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien missing in action — assists by Kane and Byfuglien are the only tallies so far for the trio — the Hawks are one score and 20 minutes away from a forceful 3-0 lead in the series.
"Upon further review, we have a good goal."
That was the word from referee Bill McCreary, after checking out the replay of Chris Pronger's power-play slap shot that trickled through Antti Niemi and tumbled barely — just barely — over the goal line.
Here's the strange part: The horn sounded at the arena and the red light flashed on, but the officials didn't see the goal so play continued for almost 90 seconds before the next whistle prompted the review.
The Versus cameras captured some incredible angles, showing conclusively that the puck was across the line while Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson's attempt to clear it out came just a hair late. Those famous Philly boos showered out from the seats after the whistle, but the frenzied crowd was soon more than satisfied by the announcement of the goal.
Pronger was credited with the goal, though Scott Hartnell appeared to touch it last. Either way, it's 2-1 Flyers. Just past the midpoint of the game. And plenty of action left to come.
The second period has begun, and it's already tied up.
Duncan Keith did the honors for the Hawks, driving a slap shot past Michael Leighton to make it 1-1. The puck glanced off Flyers forward Jeff Carter's stick and skipped into the net, with star Patrick Kane credited for his first assist of the series.
This came right after the Flyers power play expired without a score but some serious push, requiring more acrobatic saves by Niemi and hard-nosed defense by the blue-liners. The Blackhawks had 15 blocked shots through the first 22 minutes of the game.
Danny Carcillo took a charging penalty with less than 2 minutes left in the first period, and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was NOT happy. He appeared to be angry with the officials, not so much his scrappy winger, while twice whirling around and banging his fist against the glass behind the bench.
The first period ended, though, with a mere five seconds of power-play time left for the Blackhawks.
Not surprisingly, there was some action after the buzzer. Chicago's big Dustin Byfuglien was mixing it up with Philly defenseman Kimmo Timonen, and Byufglien picked up a roughing penalty for it that will carry into the middle frame with the Flyers leading 1-0 in front of their raucous fans. More on the crowd noise in a bit.
It's 1-0 Flyers, thanks to an are-you-kidding pass by Scott Hartnell.
With 6:06 left in the first period, the first power play of the game went to the Flyers after a slashing penalty on Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa.
And that led to the first goal.
Antti Niemi, who has been a stalwart in the net in his first full NHL season, made a nice save on the first shot he saw. But the Blackhawks didn't clear the puck.
Hartnell grabbed a rebound and passed it almost blindly through the crease with his back turned to Danny Briere, who swept it in past Niemi for the early lead.
The unflappable Niemi barked in frustration into his glove.
Finally, a whistle.
The first period of Game 3 has been played at a frenetic pace. The Blackhawks and Flyers just went more than four minutes without a stoppage of play, until an offside call brought the action to a temporary halt. It's great for TV viewers, but maybe not so much for the sponsors on cable network Versus.
Simon Gagne has had a couple of quality shots on the net for the Flyers, but Antti Niemi has so far been sharp for the Hawks after withstanding several surges in the first part of the period.
On the other end, Flyers goalie Michael Leighton is hoping to build on his Game 2 performance. After getting yanked from Game 1 and giving up five goals on 20 shots, he played better in defeat on Monday night.
Leighton, interestingly, was drafted by the Blackhawks. He's played for four NHL teams, claimed off waivers three times and been traded twice. But this postseason performance, with three shutouts since taking over for the injured Brian Boucher, has permanently altered his career.
Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals is under way, after a stirring rendition of "God Bless America."
One fan in the Wachovia Center crowd held up a sign that said, "God Bless the Flyers." Will home ice be a blessing for Philly, after dropping the first two games in Chi-town?
We're about to find out. The Flyers are 7-1 at home so far in these playoffs, but the Blackhawks are 7-1 on the road.
Ian Laperriere almost put one in for the Flyers from the side of the net, but Antti Niemi turned the puck away for the Hawks. The line changes have been fast and furious, fire-wagon style if you will. Enforcer Danny Carcillo is in the lineup again for the Flyers. It would already be a physical game, but the guy they call the "Car Bomb" should help spice up the matchup even more.