VOORHEES, N.J. -- At least a couple of the Philadelphia Flyers were quick to let Penguins captain Sidney Crosby off the hook for his actions Sunday in Game 3 of the first-round playoff series.
Former Penguins winger Max Talbot, a friend of Crosby's since they were teenagers, was asked if he was surprised that Crosby did a little agitating and got involved in scrums and a fight with Flyers center Claude Giroux.
"Yes and no," Talbot said. "Sid is such a great competitor. He shows up every night, every game. When it's not going his way, he tries to do other things. He's kind of like me, but with 10 times more skill. He's going to do everything he can to spark his team or get a win. He tried to do that."
After that game, Crosby -- whose team lost, 8-4, to fall behind in the series, 3-0, heading into Game 4 tonight in Philadelphia -- also angrily said, "I don't like any guy on their team."
Talbot was forgiving.
"He's definitely a great friend," Talbot said. "It gets heated in the moment. That's OK. I'm not worried about that. I'm sure I'm going to talk to him after the series, and it's going to be fine."
Flyers winger Jaromir Jagr, a former Penguins star who never played with Crosby, also backed the 24-year-old.
"I still respect him," Jagr said. "I still think he's a great kid. I still think he's a great player. Things like that happen. At least we know he wants to win. "And whatever he said, that stuff happens."
Penguins right winger Craig Adams will sit out Game 4 tonight because of an automatic suspension he received when he picked up an instigator penalty with less than five minutes remaining in Game 3.
Adams traded punches with Flyers winger Scott Hartnell and got a handful of Hartnell's generous head of hair during their skirmish.
"I reached up to grab his collar at the back," Adams said. "If you have enough hair, it's going to get in the way, sooner or later. It's not something I did on purpose. I grabbed a handful of his hair there for a second and let it go. I don't think he has a huge problem with it. If he does, he should maybe get a haircut."
Adams said he had been optimistic that the league would rescind his suspension, but that did not happen. He also said that, while he regrets missing Game 4, he isn't second-guessing getting involved with Hartnell.
"In hockey, you have to make split-second decisions," he said. "I'm not going to beat myself up over it."
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was ejected from Game 3, along with Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, for engaging in a fight while Crosby and Giroux already were having one.
On his way to the dressing room, Letang resurrected the "Shhhh" gesture Talbot, then with the Penguins, gave the Philadelphia crowd in a 2009 playoff game.
It wasn't a coincidence.
"I was trying to do it to Max," Letang said. "Just a funny thing."
Talbot acknowledged he saw it, but, after an uncomfortable smile, said, "No comment."
Adams' absence, and that of suspended winger Arron Asham, creates lineup openings that apparently will be filled by Eric Tangradi and Richard Park, who skated on the wings with fourth-line center Joe Vitale in practice Tuesday.
Tangradi is a Philadelphia native, so playing against the Flyers figures to have a little extra significance for him.
"It's always exciting to play in the playoffs," he said. "The tension in this series, and the fact that I'm going back home, adds a little bit of spice to it. I'm just excited for the opportunity."
Still, Tangradi insisted that he doesn't expect to have a problem maintaining his focus and keeping his emotions in check.
"I've played in my hometown twice, so I've gotten that out of the way, and I was able to get in a playoff game last year in Tampa, so I feel like I'm ready," he said.
The Flyers seem to have gotten a lift each game after using their timeout. That gave Jagr an idea. "Sometimes, I think we should take the timeouts after the first minute. We always play better after the timeout. Maybe we should just drop the puck and call the timeout right away."
Defenseman Paul Martin did not participate in the Penguins' practice Tuesday and might not dress for Game 4. Coach Dan Bylsma said Martin was given a "maintenance day" and described him as "possible" for the game tonight. If Martin cannot play and the Penguins opt against making a personnel move, Brian Strait figures to fill his spot.penguins