The Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks don’t have a particularly fiery competitive history. In fact, the Hawks are one of the few long-running franchises that doesn’t have a natural or festering hatred for the Orange and Black, and likewise. However, despite lacking long-running contempt, the lone regular season battle between the two Stanley Cup finalists on March 13 still lives in the nightmares of Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.
“It was a game that at the end of it might have been the most frustrating loss all year long,” Quenneville told the the Daily Herald. “Giving up a lead late and then giving up the goal to beat us without getting it to overtime – with a couple seconds on the clock – was a tough pill to swallow at the time.”
With seven seconds to play and the game tied at two thanks to a dramatic goal by Scott Hartnell at the final two-minute mark, Claude Giroux and the Flyers began to move through the neutral zone with force and in numbers. With the seconds rapidly ticking off the clock in a game seemingly destined for overtime in Philadelphia, Giroux crossed the Chicago blue line. Catching a fleeting glimpse of Chris Pronger charging down the opposite end, he threaded a soft saucer pass across the slot and directly onto the stick of Pronger, who, uncovered, redirected it past Cristobal Huet with 2.1 seconds on the clock to win the game.
Failing to secure the one overtime point against the Flyers loomed over Chicago for much of the tightly contested Western Conference playoff race and ultimately made the difference in whether the Hawks held the top seed or the second seed in the West. With 112 points, Chicago, with one more win than the San Jose Sharks, came one point from tying San Jose (113 points) and taking first place. However, in the end, it didn’t much matter as the Hawks were still able to snag the second seed and march through the post season.
“It turned out OK that we didn’t have it, in hindsight,” Quenneville quipped.
If the one meeting between the Flyers and Chicago this season is any indication of the finals — expect to be entertained.