'Hawks hold on to beat Flyers

Marian Hossa celebrates with Brent Seabrook during Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final between Chicago...

Marian Hossa celebrates with Brent Seabrook during Game 2 of Stanley Cup Final between Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers. (Alex Urosevic/QMI Agency)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 AM ET

CHICAGO - Ben Eager has toiled for the most part in the boiler room of the Chicago Blackhawks, but Monday night he got a corner office view.

The ’Hawks burly winger scored what turned out to be the winner in Chicago’s 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers at United Center for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final and was in the middle of a post-game controversy with Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger.

As the game ended, Eager was in pursuit of the puck for Chicago goaltender Antti Niemi, but Pronger, as he did in Game 1, according to the ’Hawks, scooped up the puck.

Eager and Pronger exchanged words with a referee coming between them and then Pronger used to his stick to shoot at Eager one of the red rally towels that had been thrown on the ice by fans.

“Just a little post-game chat, but it was nothing... he decided to pick up the puck again at the end of the game,” said Eager, who scored his first goal of the playoffs after Marian Hossa had given the ’Hawks a 1-0 lead just 28 seconds earlier late in the second period. “That’s fine with us.”

Pronger said he was only frustrated with the loss. When asked about what happened between himself and Eager at the end of the game, Pronger said: “I don’t speak that language, whatever he was speaking. I couldn’t hear him.”

When asked if he fired the towel at Eager, he replied: “Did I? You’re intuitive. Next (question).”

Eager is another example of why the ’Hawks are leaving for Philadelphia for Game 3 Wednesday with a 2-0 series lead.

They haven’t got a goal from top guns Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane yet, but have successfully defended home ice in their pursuit of their first Stanley Cup since 1961 because of their depth.

Teams winning Game 2 of the final have gone on to win the Stanley Cup 53 times in 70 years since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1939. That’s a winning percentage of .760.

Home teams sweeping Games 1 and 2 are 31-2, though the ’Hawks are one of the teams to have lost (after winning the first two games at home in 1971 against Montreal, they lost in seven. The Detroit Red Wings won the first two games at home last year and lost in seven to the Pittsburgh Penguins).

Both teams were much better than in Saturday night’s ragged 6-5 win by the ’Hawks, but despite the emotion being ratcheted up by the Flyers, they still didn’t have enough to handle the pace when the ’Hawks cranked it up in the last three minutes of the second period.

First it was Hossa scoring - just his third of the playoffs - off a rebound and then Eager got his first when he skated down the right wing and lifted a 38-foot wrist shot over the glove of Flyers’ goaltender Michael Leighton, who had played strongly to that point.

It was a big moment for Eager, an Ottawa native whose only previous playoff goal was also a winner, he said.

“It was pretty exciting,” said Eager, a former Flyer. “I’ve been working pretty hard this post-season. It was definitely a nice feeling to see that one go in It was a big shift before us. Hossa scored a big goal for us and really got the bench going.

"We got out there next and got a nice bounce.”

Now the Flyers face a crucial test Wednesday.

“They’ve defended their home ice,” said Pronger. “Now we have to do the same.”


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