When Niemi says no, he means it.
In what was a stark contrast from Game One, the Chicago Blackhawks squeaked by the Philadelphia Flyers in game two by a score of 2-1. In a 28 second span, the Hawks went from a nail-biting tie to a 2-0 lead, in the 2nd period. Philly scored on the power play in the 3rd, but after that, it was Antti Niemi time.
As many expected, both teams tightened the reins on defense and both goaltenders played exceptionally better. Here are some good nuggets from a very exciting battle.
The referees continue to be pathetic at best. At least a handful of missed calls left fans, as well as both teams, upset and stunned.
Whether it was Chicago's Troy Brouwer getting away with an errant elbow, or a half dozen interference and cross-checks by Philly, the refs continue to suck on their whistles like they miss their pacifiers.
Flyers winger Dan Carcillo made his first appearance of the series and contributed early...by taking out teammate Jeff Carter with a monster hit aimed for Hawk forward Tomas Kopecky.
Outside of the hit, his presence was not felt at all.
Antti Niemi may have wrapped up the Conn Smythe trophy after tonight. Even with at least one dozen blocked shots, Niemi was vital to Chicago winning.
I just turned on the post game news conference, and Antti Niemi refused to take credit for playing well, again.
He may be one of the humbler players in the league today.
In the other net, Michael Leighton rebounded with a superb effort in defeat. It is easy to say the Ben Eager goal could have been saved, but Chicago had numerous opportunities nixed by the former Hawk netminder.
No reason either team can complain about the play in net.
Arron Asham continued to be a top five guy for Philly.
Speaking of Eager, he earned the third star of the night. Big hits in both zones, a rocket of a wrister, and constant pressure showed why Eager and the Blackhawks are so deep and talented.
If the third period tonight was being played in the city of brotherly love, I don't know if the Hawks pull this game out. The barrage of shots and unmatched pressure by Philly at home with their fans could have been all they needed to come out on top.
It was good to see Marian Hossa pot one. No finesse, no moves, just picking up the trash in front of the net.
I expect a split in Philadelphia. It is tough to imagine the Flyers not winning one after losing two heartbreakers. At the same time, Chicago is so good on the road; it is tough to imagine them not stealing one with a chance to win at home.
Get jacked up and ready for a trip out east. The series is sure to get more interesting with two at the Wachovia Center.