Penguins lead series 2-0 against Flyers
Penguins Ryan Malone celebrates with Sidney Crosby after Crosby scores in the first period.
Penguins Ryan Malone tries to get in front of Flyers Martin Biron in the first period Sunday.
Flyers' Tyler Kennedy fights Flyers Scottie Upshall in the first period Sunday.
Penguins Tyler Kennedy takes a right from Flyers Scottie Upshaw in the first period.
Penguins Marian Hossa reaches in to score on Flyers goalie Martin Biron in the second period.
Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury makes save against the Flyers at the Mellon Arena, Sunday.
Flyers Mike Richards scores a short-handed goal on Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period Sunday.
Flyers Mike Richards celebrates after scoring in the second period.
Penguins Max Talbot is knocked to the ice after scoring the winning goal.
Penguins Maxime Talbot celebrates his third-period goal against the Flyers with teammate Georges Laraque Sunday.
Penguins Georges Laraque congratulates Max Talbot after scoring the winning goal.
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Max Talbot would have been happy just to be back in the Penguins' lineup, contributing to their success in some small way.
Hey, sit out three games the way Talbot did while recovering from a broken foot, and you don't want to ask for too much, too soon.
So Talbot would have settled for killing a few penalties and doing some defense work -- you know, the usual stuff -- in his return.
He did all that, but he didn't stop there, for it was Talbot's goal at 8:51 of the third period that broke a 2-2 tie and made the Penguins' 4-2 victory last night against Philadelphia in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final at Mellon Arena possible.
The Penguins, whose performance was among their worst of these playoffs, have a 2-0 lead in the series, which resumes with Game 3 at 7:38 p.m. tomorrow at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.
And while Talbot didn't expect to be a difference-maker in Game 2, he apparently realized it wasn't entirely out of the question.
"I was in my bed this afternoon thinking, 'Hey, it would be nice to score a goal and make a big comeback,' " Talbot said. "You think about stuff like that, and sometimes it's going to happen."
Talbot didn't say whether he imagined the details of his winner, envisioned himself moving down the slot and burying a Gary Roberts feed from behind the goal line.
Roberts never looked at Talbot before sliding a backhand pass to him, but that wasn't necessary. Talbot had made certain that Roberts knew he was in scoring position.
"He yelled for it," Roberts said. "I knew there was one [defenseman] on either side of the net, and when he yelled for it, I figured he was wide open."
Talbot was and, a split-second later, the puck was behind Flyers goalie Martin Biron. And when Jordan Staal scored into an empty net with 28.8 seconds left, the Penguins had a victory that set a franchise record -- they have won seven consecutive at home in the playoffs for the first time -- but will rank among their least impressive of the postseason.
"Our focus wasn't where it should have been," center Sidney Crosby said.
Not much of their game was. The Penguins looked sluggish and out of sync for much of the evening.
"It's nice that we found a way to win, but we're going to have to be a little better than we were tonight," Roberts said. "We don't want to win like that every night."
Third-line right winger Tyler Kennedy was one of the few Penguins to play with obvious fire and focus throughout the game. He had a furious exchange of punches with Flyers winger Scottie Upshall in the neutral zone at 3:49 of the opening period -- just his second NHL fight -- and was visible almost every time he went over the boards.
Had he been subjected to one of those random drug tests, Kennedy might have been proven to be running on undiluted adrenaline.
"I just try to bring as much energy as I can," he said. "That's my job."
The Flyers played most of the game without defenseman Braydon Coburn, who was struck in the face by a Hal Gill shot that was deflected at 1:52 of the opening period. There was no immediate word on when he might be able to return.
Crosby gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead when he beat Biron on the short side from a sharp angle on a power play at 10:48 of the first period, but Jeff Carter pulled the Flyers even at 5:46 of the second.
After Marian Hossa put the Penguins back in front at 13:43, backhanding in a Sergei Gonchar rebound, the Flyers exploited a blunder by Evgeni Malkin to tie the score, 2-2.
Mike Richards picked off a cross-ice pass by Malkin at the Philadelphia blue line and beat goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on a short-handed breakaway with 23.2 seconds left in the period.
"I don't think that was the right play, obviously," Gonchar said. "Especially when the guy had a full [head of] steam going the other way."
Richards' goal got Philadelphia back into the game, but the Flyers couldn't sneak another puck past Fleury. And after Talbot got the goal he had been daydreaming about just a few hours earlier, the Penguins owned a victory that, however unimpressive, they were all too happy to accept.
"It wasn't our best game," Staal said. "But we found a way to win. And that's what good teams do."
First Published May 12, 2008 12:00 am