It was early in the 2006-07 season when Penguins forward Max Talbot, in his final days as a minor leaguer, approached the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaching staff to get permission to go home to Montreal briefly because his mother, Lucie, had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The team's assistant, Dan Bylsma, was particularly good with Talbot.
"Dan was there for me to talk to, and I felt comfortable with him," said Talbot, a forward who more than two years later scored twice in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to lead the Penguins to a championship with Bylsma behind the bench as their head coach.
Talbot hasn't talked much publicly about his mother's battle. She now is doing fine and looking forward to fall 2011, when she plans to celebrate the five-year landmark that signifies beating the disease.
"She already knows she wants earrings for her five years, and we're going to do a big party," Talbot said before the Penguins played Ottawa at Consol Energy Center.
The NHL this month is promoting "Hockey Fights Cancer," and the Penguins held an awareness night Monday.
Talbot was part of that, visiting patients receiving chemotherapy Friday at the Hillman Cancer Center in Shadyside and taping a public service announcement with one of its prominent oncologists, Stanley Marks.
For Talbot, the visit was special because although he got to visit with his mother briefly when she was diagnosed and talked to her frequently during her treatments, he never got to sit with her while she received treatments.
"I wasn't there when my mom was getting chemo, so I didn't know what it was," Talbot said. "So it was nice to be there and talk to people."
The Penguins' four injured players -- defensemen Brooks Orpik (groin) and Zbynek Michalek (shoulder) and forwards Jordan Staal (foot) and Arron Asham (shoulder) -- skated in full gear before the team's morning skate.
Although the Penguins are sometimes vague about injury reports, Orpik appears to be the closest to returning.
"I actually mean 'day to day' on this one," Bylsma said, smiling.
Ottawa entered the game ranked last in the NHL on the power play at 5 percent (1 for 20), and coach Cory Clouston was asked what former Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar, a noted power-play quarterback, has added.
"Right now, nothing, to be honest," Clouston said. "But that's not a slight on him. He hasn't made any difference -- not just because of him but because of the other four guys on the ice. They have to find a way to become a unit. Right now they're more individualistic as opposed to [being] a unit."
Gonchar, who spent the past five seasons with the Penguins, got a standing ovation and warm cheer when the Penguins showed a tribute to him during a first-period stoppage.
The Penguins scratched winger Eric Godard, with Craig Adams returning to the lineup after sitting out the previous two games. ... Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski dismissed reports that he lost a tooth Saturday from a high stick by Philadelphia's Jeff Carter. He has stitches inside his upper lip and a sore nose. ... Former Penguins agitator Jarkko Ruutu, a winger with Ottawa, is sporting a familiar look -- a black eye and bruised, puffy cheek on the right side of his face. "Every year. Same thing. Nothing changes," Ruutu said with a grin. He took a high stick against Carolina last week.