When Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews finally found their way onto the score sheet in the Stanley Cup finals, the Chicago Blackhawks suddenly didn’t have enough offense to beat the Philadelphia Flyers.
That certainly isn’t how the Western Conference champions expected things to go.
Kane scored to put Chicago ahead in the third period — off an assist from Toews — and he helped set up defenseman Duncan Keith’s tying goal in the first period. Three points from the top-line forwards was welcomed, but the Blackhawks were beaten 4-3 in overtime by the Flyers, who cut the series deficit to 2-1.
The Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead at home without even an assist from Kane and Toews, who combined for 156 points in the regular season, plus another 14 goals and 46 points in the playoffs.
Chicago had won seven straight, 10 of 11 overall, and seven consecutive away from home. All of those runs are gone now. With another loss in Philadelphia, the Blackhawks will be heading back home tied 2-2 and facing a whole lot of pressure in Game 5.
The most stunning part of Game 3 was that when Kane broke through with his first goals of the finals, the lead lasted only 20 seconds before Ville Leino tied it for Philadelphia. The public address announcer hadn’t even gotten through the announcement of Kane’s goal before he was drowned out by the bellowing horn sounded to celebrate the Flyers’ tying tally.
Any juice the Blackhawks could have hoped to build on was gone.
No one could have predicted that the emergence of Kane and Toews would not be a winning formula for the Blackhawks, although who would have believed Chicago would have eight goals and two wins in two games with no points from these top-line forwards?
“As a line we’re going to keep getting better,” Toews said Wednesday before Game 3. “We know we’re going to break through and get our chances. The easy thing is to get frustrated. We’re not going to do that, either.”
Chicago has given new meaning to balanced scoring in this series. Its 11 goals have been scored by 10 players, including defensemen Keith and Brent Sopel, who both wiped out Flyers leads in Game 3.