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Flyers coach Peter Laviolette never saw the winning goal.
"I saw one of their players skate across the ice like he had won something," he said. "I got a little pit in my stomach."
The Blackhawks ruthlessly attacked the Flyers and it paid off with two should-have-been-stopped goals against Leighton.
Leighton, who had been flawless at home this postseason, couldn't come up with two crucial saves and that helped put Chicago in the driver's seat.
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.
Chris Pronger, who had one of the worst playoff performances of his career in Game 5 (minus-5), was penalized twice in the first. His antagonistic actions came after a day after he was the subject of an unflattering picture of him in a skirt in the Chicago Tribune.
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 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.
This Flyers team had mastered the art of the comeback, starting all the way back on the last day of the regular season when a shootout win clinched a playoff spot. It became the third team in NHL history to win a series after losing the first three games when it eliminated Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and evened the Stanley Cup at 2-all after losing the first two games at Chicago.
It wasn't enough and the Flyers are still looking for their first Stanley Cup since winning consecutive championships in 1974 and 1975.
"We just thought it was meant to be," Briere said. "We just thought it was a matter of time we would win in overtime and go back to Chicago."
NOTES: The Flyers have lost their last six Stanley Cup finals appearances. ... The Flyers finished 9-2 at home in the postseason.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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