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Undisciplined Blackhawks pay the price

Saturday, 06.05.2010 / 9:57 AM / News
By Brian Compton  - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
PHILADELPHIA --  An injury forced Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Ladd to miss the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final. His first shift Friday night was a sign of things to come for his team.

Ladd's interference penalty against Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn was the first of six power plays for Philadelphia, which evened this best-of-7 series with a 5-3 victory in Game 4 at the Wachovia Center.

Chicago, which played undisciplined hockey for much of the contest, suddenly finds itself in a best-of-3 series that shifts back to the United Center for Game 5 Sunday night (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). The Blackhawks hadn't lost back-to-back games all postseason before the Flyers reeled off two in a row.

"I got a little over aggressive right off the hop," Ladd said. "But it got me in the game and they did a good job killing it off. That's just the way it started."

Things only got worse for the Blackhawks. Roughly four minutes after Ladd's penalty, Tomas Kopecky was sent to the box for high sticking Danny Briere. Five seconds later, Mike Richards backhanded a shot past Antti Niemi to give the Flyers an early 1-0 lead.

"We're not happy about it," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said of the penalties. "We've got ourselves to blame and that's it. It's one of those little details that you can look at and say it's going to make a world of difference if we clean that up and get rid of it, get it out of our game. Sometimes, not everything's going to go your way, same with the calls. We've got ourselves to blame on that."

Philadelphia used the early momentum and jumped out to a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes. Matt Carle and Claude Giroux both scored at even strength as the Flyers capitalized on both undisciplined and sloppy play by Chicago in the opening period.

"I thought we were very generous in the first period on what we gave them as far as goals went," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We have to be smart and more composed in the discipline area as well."

Chicago handed the Flyers two more power plays during a scoreless second period. Nick Boynton, who made his postseason debut Friday, came awfully close to making it three when he slashed Scott Hartnell on the back of the latter's legs, but fortunately for the Blackhawks, Hartnell was also sent off for retaliating.

"We need to be smarter," Toews said. "Our penalties are catching up to us."

After Ville Leino scored at even strength to make it 4-1, the Blackhawks managed to kill Brent Seabrook's cross-checking penalty against Jeff Carter at 8:03 of the third period. Then they scored their first power-play goal of the series when Dave Bolland converted on a two-man advantage at 12:01 before Brian Campbell made it a one-goal game at 15:50.

But the Flyers clamped down defensively and sealed the deal when Carter scored into an empty net at 19:35. If only Chicago had been more disciplined from the start, perhaps they would be going home with a 3-1 lead.

Instead, it's anybody's series.

"When they get a lead, they're the type of team that knows how to shut it down and take away scoring opportunities," Toews said. "(But) we still found ways to get around their net. If we can do that early on in the game, there should be a different outcome. Those are things we want to change and we're not going to let it frustrate us."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
 

Author: Brian Compton | NHL.com Staff Writer