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Blackhawks grounded after fast start

PHILADELPHIA -- During the first four minutes of their game against the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks appeared to be in position to generate some positive momentum during a key stretch of their season.

Andrew Shaw and Duncan Keith scored goals in the game’s first four minutes, and the Blackhawks already created a stunned wave among the sellout crowd of more than 19,000 in the Wells Fargo Center.

Shaw tapped in a rebound from Michal Handzus between the legs of Flyers goalie Ray Emery at 2:29, and Keith followed with a blast from the slot past Emery’s stick side at 3:51.

The quick start also suddenly began to generate a nostalgic feeling as well, as head coach Joel Quenneville appeared to be poised to join only Scotty Bowman and Al Arbour as NHL coaches with 700 or more wins in their careers. Chicago also had a chance to move into second place in the Central Division as it began the night a point behind Colorado for second place.

But the atmosphere changed its landscape for the rest of the evening.

Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell scored less than two minutes later and he added another tally in the final three minutes of the opening period as Chicago found itself in a dogfight with the Flyers that lasted the rest of regulation and eventually spilled into overtime.

Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux finally broke the stalemate when he blasted a shot from the right point with five seconds left in the extra period that gave the Flyers a 3-2 win. Coincidentally, Montreal rallied in the third period to defeat Colorado, 6-3, and the defeat left the Blackhawks in third place in the division. With the defeat, Chicago dropped its third game out of its past four.

The Flyers were the aggressor from late in the opening period and throughout the remainder of the game as they outshot the Blackhawks 37-25. Philadelphia, which is in second place in the Metropolitan Division, raised its mark to 6-1-1 in March and 11-3-1 in the past 14 games.

Chicago did gain some late momentum in regulation when Bryan Bickell appeared to get the best of Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds when the pair dropped their gloves, and Bickell tossed Simmonds into the boards.

Despite the loss, Chicago goalie Antti Raanta, who made only his second start since the Olympic break and entered with an overall 12-3-3 record, had his share of key stops as he recorded 34 saves. He made a spectacular sprawling save in the game’s final minute of regulation during a Flyers rush and stopped several shots within the slot in the final three minutes of regulation.

The Blackhawks caught a quick flight out of Philadelphia as they have a quick turnaround, returning home Wednesday night to face St. Louis and hosting Carolina on Friday.

“It has been a tough couple of games,” Quenneville said. “We have to get right back at it tomorrow against a good team [St. Louis]. It’s a tough ending to a pretty entertaining game. We had a good second period and a good third, it was a pretty intense game.

"Sometimes you get some scheduled games in your favor and sometimes you’re against it a little bit. We have to find a way, obviously. It’s a huge game [St. Louis] for us and exciting to play these guys. I see our team responding and being excited about that game.”

Keith, who scored his fourth goal of the season and has 29 points (4 goals, 25 assists) in his past 33 games, expected the Flyers to rally.

“We got the jump on them so quick, I don’t think they got down on themselves because it did happen so quick,” Keith said. “They were able to get a lucky bounce on that first one to get them back in it, it’s a 2-1 game and they got another one.”

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews believed his club wasted an opportunity.

“There are no excuses,” he said. “I don’t care what you carry into this game or this week, especially since we’re really busy coming up here. We have to find a way to be better. We’ve said it, we play better if we shore up the little things. We have a lot of skill and a lot of ability and it will take care of itself, we’ll find a way to get points.”