Dustin Byfuglien allowed himself to reintroduce himself.
A four-point, nine-hit effort by the man they call Big Buff propelled the Blackhawks to a 7-4 victory in game five of the Stanley Cup Final.
Byfuglien's performance helped the Blackhawks take a 3-2 series lead in the Final as the teams head to Philadelphia for game six on Wednesday.
The performance by Byfuglien was much needed for the Blackhawks after the team had lost two consecutive games. After scoring at a point-per-game clip in the Western Conference Semi-finals and finals, Byfuglien had only one point, an assist, in the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final. After Sunday night, he's back to being a point-per-game player.
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, who had dominated the Blackhawks both physically and mentally, was a minus-5 on the evening. Pronger was on the ice for six of the Blackhawks' seven goals against, and the the only thing stopping him from being a practical minus-7 was the fact that the Blackhawks scored on the powerplay—while Pronger was in the penalty box.
It was another Conn Smythe worthy game from Duncan Keith, who has been lighting up the stat sheet as of late, but has been doing the little things that help a team win all season long.
Speaking of the little things, anyone who ever calls Marian Hossa a choke-artist in the Stanley Cup finals after his performance in 2010 is an idiot. Yes, Hossa was a minus-3 tonight, but unlike Pronger, Hossa cannot be held at fault for any of the goals against. Just look at the highlights, Hossa is an offensive and defensive force. That's only a small sample size—Hossa had six shots saved by either Leighton or Boucher. If he turns in another performance like Sunday's, he may just be a plus-3.
Kris Versteeg, like Byfuglien, joined the party in game five. On a line with Dave Bolland and Byfuglien, Versteeg notched a three point performance, scoring on his only shot of the game.
Antti Niemi was never spectacular, but never a liability between the pipes. Despite giving up four goals, the Blachawks' netminder has done exactly what is asked of him in these playoffs: give the Blackhawks a chance to win. Some nights that requires acrobatics. In the Stanley Cup final, that has required a lack of short-term memory. In game five, Niemi never allowed the Flyers to narrow the margin to within one goal, despite an exponentially growing number of scoring chances in the second and third periods. All in all, Niemi made 23 saves in the win.
The Blackhawks powerplay scored two goals in game five, one from each unit with the man advantage. The Blackhawks have now scored on three of their last five powerplays, going back to Dave Bolland's goal in the third period of game four.
The powerplay goals came despite the Blackhawks losing all five of their powerplay faceoffs in game five. That o-fer was an anomaly, as the Blackhawks dominated the dot Sunday, winning 58 percent of even strength draws and a remarkable five of seven faceoffs shorthanded.
The Blackhawks are winning 54 percent of the faceoffs in the Cup final. The Blackhawks are even better in Cup final games at the United Center, where they have won 56 percent of the total draws.
From Around the Internets: Game Five