Andrew Ladd, an injury scratch the first three games, deflected Niklas Hjalmarsson’s slap shot from the circle with 2:17 left in the second. That made it 3-2 and nearly stood as the winner.
His goal followed Patrick Sharp’s soft wrister that scooted under Leighton’s left skate to tie it a 2 midway through the period. Sharp’s 11th goal of the postseason came during a 4-on-4.
Niemi was barely tested.
Daniel Briere beat him for a 2-1 lead when he came streaking down the right side and went high glove side off a crisp pass from Ville Leino with 12 minutes left.
There were 40 goals scored in the first five games, the most for a finals since 1981. This one was a goalie’s duel early with only a power-play goal from each team in the first period.
Chicago pounded Leighton from all angles and were outshooting the Flyers 14-3 at one point late in the first.
Pronger’s penalty for high sticking was still being announced when Dustin Byfuglien popped out to face the net and one-timed a pass from Toews past Leighton with 3:11 left.
The Flyers didn’t even attempt a shot on their first two power-play chances. The special teams unit that had been so effective during their first Stanley Cup finals run since 1997 had suddenly gone dry.
That is, until Hartnell bailed them out.
He backhanded the puck through Niemi’s legs — he couldn’t even get his pads on it — with 26.5 seconds left to tie the game. Hartnell barked at the Blackhawks and a home crowd on edge suddenly roared back to life.
It wasn’t enough and the Flyers are looking for their first Stanley Cup since winning consecutive championships in 1974 and 1975.
“In the long run, everybody should be proud with what we did this year,” Flyers forward Jeff Carter said. “We overcame a lot of adversity. The guys should be proud of what we accomplished.”
Notes: The Flyers have lost their last six Stanley Cup finals appearances. ... The Flyers finished 9-2 at home in the postseason.
PHT: Henrik Lundqvist had to stand on his head in Game 1 just to keep the Rangers in the game vs. the Bruins, which they eventually lost in OT. Will Game 2 be any different?
'Hawks celebrate on ice with the Cup
June 10, 2010: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presents captain Jonathan Toews with the Stanley Cup, and Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and others Chicago players skate around the ice with it.
Video: NHL from NBC Sports
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