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Flyers have Blackhawks tied in knots

PHILADELPHIA — Flyers coach Peter Laviolette likes to remind anyone who asks about his team's ability to handle pressure.

"At Christmas time, we were 29th in the league," he said. "We're just a resilient group. We keep pushing. Pressure is more for teams who are expected to win, like the Blackhawks."

The seventh-seeded Flyers might just become one of the NHL's classic underdog stories after rallying to even the Stanley Cup finals against the Blackhawks at two games apiece with a 5-3 victory in Game 4 on Friday night at the Wachovia Center.

The result means the series will return to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Wednesday after the teams meet in Chicago on Sunday.

The Flyers played like a team without much to lose, bursting to a 3-1 first-period lead.

They maintained their trend of superior play late in playoff series. The Flyers have not lost after Game 3, including a second-round comeback against the Bruins after they fell behind 3-0 in that series.

It was the first time the Blackhawks lost back-to-back games in the playoffs.

"We're in for a long series if we wind up losing (Friday)," Hawks winger Patrick Kane said before the game. "But you can't think about that. You've got to think about the process and how you're going to play instead of the end result."

The Hawks will need to fix a few areas if they want a pleasant ending.

They again struggled with the penalty kill, giving up an unassisted power-play goal by Flyers captain Mike Richards for the first score. Richards and his top line had been shut out in the series until then.

Matt Carle added an unassisted goal for a 2-0 lead. Winger Patrick Sharp put the Hawks on the board off an assist from Duncan Keith.

But about a minute later, Flyers winger Claude Giroux, who scored the winning goal in overtime of Game 3, answered to restore a two-goal lead.

Neither team scored in the second period, but Ville Leino scored on assists from Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk for a 4-1 Flyers lead at the 6:43 mark of the third.

Leino broke a record with the goal for most playoff points by a Flyers rookie.

The Blackhawks got a 5-on-3 power-play goal by Dave Bolland at 12:01 of the third period to cut the Flyers' lead to 4-2. Brian Campbell made a rally appear possible with a goal in front of the net for a one-goal deficit with less than five minutes to play.

The Hawks attacked the net in the final minutes, but nothing got by goalie Michael Leighton. The Flyers' Jeff Carter scored into an open net with 24.6 seconds left for the final margin.

Hawks winger Andrew Ladd played for the first time in the series. He had missed the previous three games with an upper-body injury.

With Ladd on the ice, the Blackhawks sat Adam Burish

Van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup for the Flyers, making Daniel Carcillo a healthy scratch.

sryan@tribune.com

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