Biron wills team to shutout victory

Flyers' locker room

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A day earlier, goaltender Martin Biron had suggested someone -- maybe him, maybe a teammate -- would have to will the Philadelphia Flyers to a win to avoid elimination in first round of the playoffs.

Last night, coach John Stevens asked, and Biron accepted the role.

With relish.

"It's a fun thing. There's no more excitement and challenge than to be down in the series and know there's no tomorrow," he said after making 28 saves to shut out the Penguins, 3-0, at Mellon Arena and keep the Flyers alive. They trail, 3-2, in the series.

The performance came a game after Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 45 shots to push the Penguins to the brink of clinching the series. Biron pushed right back last night.

Biron got help from others, including a goal from each of the third and fourth lines. But stopping 15 shots in a scoreless first period and shutting down a skilled Penguins team was key to being able to take the series back to Wachovia Center for Game 6 at 3 p.m. Saturday.

"Part of the message before the game was we needed Marty to be great," Stevens said.

Biron didn't wait to deliver. The Flyers had just five shots in the first period, all early, and their scoring chances ran dry well before the buzzer came, while the Penguins carried the play.

"After the five-minute mark we kind of just sat back and played a little bit too cautious," Stevens said. "We spent way too much time in our end. With Marty playing like he did, he allowed us to regroup between periods.

"We started doing some things that we had done earlier in the series and then got things corrected, but I think Marty deserves a lot of credit for that because I think he held the fort early."

During a Penguins power play about midway through the first period, Biron stopped center Evgeni Malkin -- the NHL's leading scorer in the regular season -- nearly point-blank on two quick, successive shots and then turned away Malkin again when he was set up from behind the net by Sidney Crosby.

It was Biron's second playoff shutout. The first came a year ago in the Flyers' 2-0 victory against Washington in Game 2 of a first-round series.

"If he's kicking and we're going, we've got a good chance," said fourth-line winger Arron Asham, who broke the stalemate with the game's first goal at 6:32 of the second period.

"He plays limited minutes, but it seems like he gets a couple quality, grade-A chances every time," Stevens said.

Asham, who had just one previous playoff goal in 27 career games, understood the importance of scoring in a game where his team faced elimination -- "It was a do-or-die situation, so to get the first one was pretty big," he said -- but he didn't know when the puck left his stick above the left circle that it would result in a pivotal play.

"They gave me a lane to shoot," he said. "I tried using the screen [of Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi]. I just wanted to hit the net and try to create a chance for a rebound or something and it went in."

And shifted the momentum in the game heavily toward his team.

"That Asham goal was a huge pick-me-up," winger Mike Knuble said. "As players you could really feel the energy just jump on the bench. It's great to see a guy like him who doesn't get a lot of press score a huge goal. Guys like that are important to winning this time of year."

As time wound down, the question wasn't whether the Flyers were going home for the summer -- they knew they had another game to play host to in the series -- but whether Biron would get rewarded with a shutout for his performance.

He got it, but Philadelphia also got the thing it most wanted and needed from this game.

"We're back in the series," Asham said.


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