The Stanley Cup finals are tied at two games apiece, with the series headed back to Chicago.
Michael Leighton and the Flyers have held on for a 5-3 victory, getting a chance to catch their breath when Jeff Carter took the puck away from Duncan Keith at center ice for the easy empty-net goal with 24.6 seconds left.
After pulling within one goal, the Blackhawks cranked up their attack and had a handful of prime chances in the closing minutes. They just ran out of time.
Now the question is how this third period will affect Game 5 on Sunday night. Was that enough momentum for the Blackhawks to re-energize their game in front of their home fans? Or do the Flyers have too much fuel right now?
We'll see. The Hawks still have history on their side, though: Only two of the previous 33 teams that lost the first two games on the road came back to win the Stanley Cup.
Can the Flyers be the third?
Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien has driven two shots toward Michael Leighton down the stretch here, but the first one whizzed wide and Leighton gloved the other with less than 3 minutes left. Byfuglien has been quiet this series, but he did his best to try to get the Hawks back. Another close-in shot by Chicago glanced off a Flyers defenseman's skate and barely missed the back of the net — hitting the pipe instead.
The Flyers fans in the crowd look nervous, but there's less than 1 minute left with the home team clinging to a 4-3 lead.
Empty-netter. Crowd goes wild. With 24 seconds left, series is about to be 2-2.
Well, this game suddenly just got really interesting.
It's 4-3 now, and the Wachovia Center went quiet.
Defenseman Brian Campbell led a rush for the Blackhawks and fired a shot toward Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, and the puck went off Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen's stick. With Jonathan Toews going hard at the net for the Hawks, the puck dropped down between Timmonen and Toews.
Campbell gets the credit for the goal, his first of the series.
The Blackhawks just crept back, coming through on a 5-on-3 when Dave Bolland sent one in after Jonathan Toews won a key faceoff for the visitors. Precious time in the third period is ticking away, though, so that 4-2 lead by the Flyers looks pretty solid.
That's the first power-play goal by the Blackhawks this series. The 5-on-4 expired without another strike by Chicago.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, during a mid-game interview in the middle of the second period, remarked that the next goal of the game would be the biggest. It was 3-1, his team leading at that point.
Well, the Flyers got the next one, and it's 4-1. Rookie Ville Leino, who has 16 points this postseason, put one past Antti Niemi to stretch the lead to three.
Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg was on the wing and he hesitated to shoot, which led to a rush the other way for the Flyers. Leino sent a shot that glanced off Versteeg's shoulder and darted into the top of the net.
VP Joe Biden approved, clapping and twirling his towel as the Wachovia Center crowd went crazy.
The Blackhawks played a lot better in the second period, but will it matter?
Antti Niemi steadier between the pipes after fighting the puck in the first frame, and Chicago had a 13-10 edge in shots on goal in the second period with the defenseman starting to pinch down into the play.
But the Patrick Kane-Jonathan Toews-Dustin Byfuglien line is still having trouble getting a push up front. And the organist at Wachovia Center just played, "The night Chicago died," a ditty by the British group Paper Lace.
Only in Philly.
Chicago wasn't short on famous faces, a list led by actor Vince Vaughn sitting along the glass at United Center.
But just as Philly is grabbing the momentum in this series, the Wachovia Center has also gained an edge in celebrity status. Vice president Joe Biden is at tonight's game, with the City of Brotherly Love of course the closest major metro area to his Delaware home.
Wonder if there's any tension in the administration over this series? President Obama probably won't be happy if the Flyers hang on and win this game, given his affinity for and tie to the Windy City.
Oh, and here's another fun fact to add to the list for this series: Tonight's sellout crowd — announced at 20,304 people — has put the Flyers over the 1 million mark for the season. That's quite a feat for a hockey team.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sat in with the crew of analysts on the Versus cable network between periods and spent several minutes touting the growth and quality of the game as it's emerged from the 2004-05 work stoppage.
Bettman can pat himself on the back with the best of them, but the Commish had an interesting point about how the style of the sport has evolved with the new post-lockout rules that were designed to open up the ice.
"In fact, I think we put more physicality in by opening things up," Bettman said, using that "physicality" word again.
To be sure, the action in the 2010 playoffs has not lacked for any of the tough stuff — hitting and checking — or any of the fine skills like up-tempo skating and scoring.
Michael Leighton is on top of his game so far in goal for the Flyers. He's got 10 saves.
The Blackhawks were aggressive in the offensive zone in the first period, but Leighton — whose breakout performance in these playoffs has largely fueled this run to the finals — has not budged.
Leighton was a little shaky, though his five-goal allowance had just as much to do with leaky defense in front of him, and then got better in Game 1 and got better in Games 2 and 3. Performances in the net can change in a matter of minutes, so it's too early to declare him the star of the show on this night.
But the normally steady Antti Niemi has given up three goals on eight shots in the first period for the Blackhawks.
One witty fan at the Wachovia Center was spotted holding a sign bearing Donald Trump's likeness that said, "Hey Chicago, You're Flyer'd!" — a takeoff on Trump's previous reality TV show "The Apprentice."
That's exactly what just happened to the Hawks.
After defenseman Duncan Keith pinched down to prevent a puck from leaving the zone, former Flyers forward Patrick Sharp let one fly with Marian Hossa camped out in front of the net that zipped past goalie Michael Leighton's glove.
But just 51 seconds later, Claude Giroux pushed that lead back to two goals for the home team.
Fed by a nifty pass from defenseman Kimmo Timonen, Giroux — who had parked next to goalie Antti Niemi — pushed a wrist shot into the side of the net that was too deep for Niemi's kick-save attempt to stop.
It's 3-1 Flyers after a frenetic first period.
Matt Carle makes it 2-0 Flyers.
After a Blackhawks clearing attempt looked like it would get the puck out of harm's way, Claude Giroux moved in and threw a back-hander at Antti Niemi.
The rebound skidded out to Carle, who sent it in for the two-goal lead. That's the first two-goal lead the Flyers have had in this series. The Hawks had one, a 2-0 edge in Game 2.
Though the Flyers were questioned after the Game 1 loss about whether they felt they played with enough intensity and — as they say on TV sometimes — physicality, coach Peter Laviolette's team has so far showed a remarkable amount of discipline.
They weren't whistled for a single penalty in that first game. And through three games, the Blackhawks had only six power-play opportunities. They haven't scored yet with the man advantage, another testament to the Flyers' poise on the penalty kill unit.
After that highlight-reel goal by Mike Richards to get this game going, the Flyers are now 5 for 12 on the power play in the series.
The Flyers had a couple of quality chances on the first power play of the game, but Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi was up to the task.
Not on the second one.
Mike Richards just made a huge steal of the puck behind the net for the Flyers from Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson after Chicago won an own-zone faceoff at the start of the power play caused by Tomas Kopecky's high-sticking infraction.
Richards, the Flyers captain, has been quiet all series. But he just made one of the most athletic maneuvers of the playoffs, corraling Hjalmarsson from behind the quickly flipping the puck back toward the net to sneak one in past Niemi.
The "Let's Go Flyers!" chant was just out in full force at the Wachovia Center, with this pivotal Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals underway.
If the Blackhawks can come back home to Chicago with a victory, they'll have an enviable 3-1 lead. On the other hand, a Flyers win would clearly shift the momentum toward the black and orange. The first three games have each been decided by one goal and filled with the expected intensity of a championship-round matchup, but this could be an even tighter game.
Andrew Ladd, back from injury for the Blackhawks, has picked up a goaltender interference penalty on his first shift just 36 seconds into the game. The Flyers are on the power play.