The Penguins understood how rare this kind of opportunity is.
That chances like this simply don't come along very often.
Not during the playoffs.
And certainly not during overtime.
Most of all, they realized that they couldn't afford to squander it.
"When you get those opportunities," center Sidney Crosby said, "you want to make the most of them."
And the Penguins did.
Sixty-three seconds into an extended five-on-three power play, Bill Guerin threw a shot past Philadelphia goalie Martin Biron from the left side of the crease to give the Penguins a 3-2 victory in Game 2 of their opening-round playoff series against the Flyers.
Guerin's goal was his second of the game and came at 18:29 of overtime, while Mike Knuble and Claude Giroux of the Flyers were in the penalty box.
It gave the Penguins a 2-0 lead in the series, which will resume with Game 3 tomorrow at 3:08 p.m. at the Wachovia Center. The worst-case scenario for them at this point is to return to Mellon Arena for Game 5 Thursday, holding the home-ice advantage in a series would be reduced to a best-of-three.
Somewhat overlooked was that, while Guerin's goal ended the game, the Penguins had to survive a cross-checking minor to Hal Gill before getting into position to win.
Gill was sent off at 15:26 of overtime. One second before his penalty was to expire, Knuble cross-checked Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik from behind in front of the Penguins' net.
"Knuble is such a big, strong guy [that] you have to get there before him," Orpik said. "And, if you do that, he gets pretty frustrated. Their bench was on me for diving, but I can't remember the last time I dove."
A half-minute later, Claude Giroux slashed Chris Kunitz hard enough to break his stick, giving the officials no option but to send him off and put the Penguins up two men.
"It's huge to have a chance like that in overtime," defenseman Sergei Gonchar said.
The Penguins' power play betrayed them repeatedly during the regular season, but came up big in Game 2, scoring on two of five chances against some of the NHL's finest penalty-killing.
The Flyers, meanwhile, were 1 for 4 with the extra man, getting a deflection goal from Scott Hartnell at 13:26 of the opening period.
That was one of only two pucks that eluded Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He finished with 38 saves, including a remarkable on one on Jeff Carter with 8Â 1/2 minutes left in regulation and the Flyers ahead, 2-1.
Carter, the No. 2 goal-scorer in the NHL this season, had the puck at the left side of the crease and what appeared to be a mostly open net.
"It looks like a goal going in," Penguins interim coach Dan Bylsma said.
At least it did until Fleury flicked out his right leg.
"It hit my toe," Fleury said. "So it worked out well."
That save kept the Penguins in the game, and the Penguins forced overtime when Jordan Staal drew a hooking minor on Carter at 15:56 of the third, setting up a power play that culminated in a Kris Letang shot caroming off Evgeni Malkin's right leg and past Biron at 16:23.
Biron, who had a bad night in the Flyers' 4-1 loss in Game 1, rebounded with a strong effort last night, making 46 saves.
"Both goalies played great, came up with some huge saves," Crosby said.
Thanks largely to Biron, the Penguins' only lead of the evening came when Guerin got the game-winner. No playoff game is easy, but it's even more challenging when a team is skating uphill most of the time.
"It's not easy in the playoffs to play from behind, especially against a good club," Gonchar said.
The Penguins had to do that because Philadelphia played a solid, disciplined game for most of evening -- "It was more of a playoff feel, that's for sure," Orpik said -- although that likely added to the Flyers' disappointment about having the game slip away.
"It's tough," Philadelphia coach John Stevens said. "But we'll regroup and we'll be ready."
Dave Molinari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . First Published April 18, 2009 4:00 AM