Penguins blow lead, then Crosby wins it
Sidney Crosby celebrates his go-ahead goal late in yesterday's game in Philadelphia. It capped a four-point game for him and helped resurrect some momentum for the team heading to Washington.
Flyers goalie Martin Biron, right, loses control of the puck well away from the net, allowing Pascal Dupuis to feed it over to Sidney Crosby for what proved to be the winning goal.
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PHILADELPHIA -- Remember that 5-4 victory the Penguins earned against Montreal a few nights ago?
A real nice win, considering the circumstances.
It gave a couple of points and an infusion of hope to a team that needed as much of both as it could get.
But there were a few asterisks. The Penguins did it at home, against an opponent that had been struggling and had played the night before.
Nothing wrong with that, of course. Couldn't hold any of it against the Penguins.
Still, despite some striking similarities -- starting with the final score, and how the Penguins rebounded after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period -- beating the Canadiens wasn't nearly as impressive as the Penguins' 5-4 victory against Philadelphia at the Wachovia Center yesterday.
• Game: Penguins at Washington Capitals.
• When: 12:38 p.m.
• Where: Verizon Center, Washington.
• TV: WPXI.
They did it on the road and against a team that was rested and had won five of its previous six games.
And they did it because, despite experiencing some serious adversity early in the final period, they maintained their composure, focus and intensity. That kept them in position to exploit a puckhandling gaffe by Flyers goalie Martin Biron with just under three minutes left in regulation and turn it into the winning goal.
Biron left his crease to chase a loose puck near the top of the right circle with the intent of preventing Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis from getting it. He accomplished that, then realized he had to keep it in play or risk a delay-of-game penalty.
Biron tried to throw the puck behind his back, but it barely made it out of his glove, which allowed Dupuis to pounce on it and throw it toward the front of the net, where Sidney Crosby steered it in at 17:15 to break a 4-4 tie.
"I just tried to get rid of it and made a bad play, and it ends up in the net," Biron said.
Crosby absolved Biron of responsibility -- "He was just trying to get rid of it so we didn't get a power play," he said -- but recognized the opportunity being created as soon as he saw Biron try to dispose of it.
"When I saw him get rid of it, I went to the net because I was thinking [Dupuis] was going to get to it first," Crosby said. "I knew he was going to throw it at the net."
Dupuis did just that, and Crosby directed it by defenseman Braydon Coburn and into the net for his second goal of the day and fifth four-point game of the season.
His goal allowed the Penguins to raise their record to 29-25-6 and lifted them to within two points of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, pending the outcome of games involving Buffalo, Florida and Montreal last night.
Not long before Crosby scored, it appeared the Penguins might be fortunate to head to Washington, where they will face the Capitals at 12:38 p.m. today, with even a single point, because they had lost a near-chokehold on the game earlier in the period.
They were up, 3-1, on goals by Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko when, at 2:14 of the third, Scottie Upshall of the Flyers was penalized for tripping Crosby.
The Penguins could have effectively closed out the game with a power-play goal then. Instead, Philadelphia captain Mike Richards picked off a cross-ice pass by point man Ryan Whitney and broke in alone on goalie Marc-Andre Fleury before sliding a backhander past him to make it 3-2.
That rejuvenated the Flyers and the crowd of 19,957 -- the largest regular-season crowd in Philadelphia history -- and caused an abrupt change in the course of the game.
"It certainly had the makings of that being a turning point for the Flyers," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
Especially after Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi inadvertently deflected a Coburn shot from the right point past Fleury at 6:37 to make it 3-3.
Fedotenko put the Penguins back in front at 9:50, giving him two goals for the second time this season and, after Philadelphia's Mike Knuble tied it again at 14:25, Crosby put the Penguins in front to stay and in position to win three games in a row for the first time since mid-November when they take on the Capitals. Of course, they'll have to beat another good team on the road to make that happen.
Not that the Penguins are worried about such distinctions at the moment.
"They're all good wins," Dupuis said. "Home or road, we need the wins."
First Published February 22, 2009 12:00 am