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January 22, 2019
Talbot Tallies Winner
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
In his first action since suffering a broken foot against the Rangers, Max Talbot snapped a Gary Roberts centering pass over Martin Biron's right shoulder at 8:51 of the third period to break a 2-2 tie. But what else would you expect from a superstar like Max? Ticka ticka chee, ticka chee.
The play started when the great Steve Downie failed to get the puck out of the zone along the left wing boards. And he had all day too. But in fairness to Downie, he only sucks when compared to other professional hockey players.
"Turnover can't happen," said Philly coach John Stevens in reaction to Downie's gaffe. "Move your feet. I'd like to see them roll into that puck instead of putting his butt on the ledge, now we got to reach across and get that puck. But that's just, it is a learned skill, and it is a costly turnover there. But he's a good kid. He will rebound from it."
Yeah, because Downie seems big on the learning.
Anyway, Talbot and Roberts combined to keep the puck in, with Roberts busting off the wall and handing the puck to Georges Laraque. Big Georges wheeled through the high slot with all the grace of a three-legged water buffalo, fighting off the best checking efforts of Sami Kapanen as he went, and dumped the puck to the backboards.
Roberts was the first man on the biscuit, drawing the attention of both Downie and Derian Hatcher. With two men converging on him, Roberts made a real nifty play, sweeping a no-look backhand pass into the slot. Talbot was buck naked and buried a quick shot upstairs on Biron for the game-winner.
Once they got the lead, the Penguins clamped down defensively. The only real scoring chance the Flyers had came from Scottie Upshall with about two minutes left. He got off a pretty good shot from the left circle, but Marc-Andre Fleury answered the bell. Jordan Staal would close out the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:31 to make the final 4-2.
This was another real weird game for the Birds. They pretty much dominated throughout, but it was still just 2-2 in the third. With a bounce here or there, the Flyers could have easily stolen the game. Aw, that's a shame.
Already without Kimmo Timonen, Philly had to play most of the contest without Braydon Coburn, who took a puck to the face early in the first period. Hard to get happy after that one.
"He got a really bad gash in his forehead across his eye," said Stevens. "Pretty swollen, and we'll have to reevaluate him when we get home, but obviously unable to come back."
The Penguins, particularly Sidney Crosby and Marian Hossa, took full advantage of Philly's depleted back line and cycled the puck at will. Pittsburgh finished with 37 shots on the night, and only a solid performance from Biron kept the game close.
Of course, the score wouldn't have been nearly as tight if the NHL knew how to work a TV machine. There was about a two-hour delay in the first while the brain trust in Toronto checked to see if Kid Crosby managed to stuff a puck inside the right post or if Biron was able to pull it back with his glove before it crossed the line.
Despite numerous replays on Versus showing the puck on its edge over the goal stripe, the league officials said all the angles they had were inconclusive. It just goes to show you, even the NHL doesn't watch Versus.
"I think it was inconclusive from what I heard," said Kid Crosby. "They couldn't see the puck actually cross the line from the angle they had, and I think the referees calling the ice was no goal, so if it is inconclusive and the referee calls 'no goal,' it is not a goal. But I thought we did a good job of staying focused even after that, and you never know, that's a close one to call. And obviously it didn't go our way, but we kept going."
Had the goal counted, the Pens would have been up 2-0 and off to the races. Not only did the no-goal call give the Flyers a lift, the lengthy review process robbed the Penguins of all momentum. Had the delay been any longer, I would have sworn it was an episode of "According to Jim."
Mike Richards: Richards scored a beauty. With his team shorthanded and trailing 2-1 late in the second, Richards jumped all over a terrible Evgeni Malkin cross-ice pass just inside the stripe and was home free. He streaked into the Pittsburgh zone and whistled a wrister over Fleury's glove to tie the score at 19:38.
It was a brilliant shot. Richards pulled the trigger a little earlier than expected, catching the Flower by surprise.
"They were good plays, especially that breakaway," said Fleury when asked about the goals he allowed. "That was a good shot, but at the same time I wish I could do it again, try to make a big save there, so we can keep the lead. But even though they scored, I thought the guys did a great job coming back, they keep working hard until the end and get big goals for us."
Derian Hatcher: He got called for two somewhat questionable penalties in the middle stanza, with the first leading to a Hossa power-play goal, but Hatcher still had a solid night. With Coburn out, Hatcher had to log 28:31 on the night, and they were all hard-hitting minutes. He rang up six hits, including a bone-rattling belt on Ryan Malone at center. Randy Jones also deserves a nod for skating 26:14 of emergency duty without taking a minus.
Scott Hartnell: He was chirping all game, and he wasn't scared to bust out the hacks and slashes and whatnot while registering six hits of his own.
Martin Biron: Biron stole two goals from Crosby. The first was the bogus reviewed goal, and the second came with a little over four minutes left in regulation to keep the game 3-2.
Biron attempted to clear the zone himself up the gut, but Pascal Dupuis got a piece of it, allowing Crosby to snag the puck inside the Philly blue line and cruis down the slot. Forsaking a clear shooting lane, Crosby danced and dipped his way through traffic, cutting right to left to pull Biron to the ice before whipping a shot directly into his outstretched glove.
IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCES - PITTSBURGH
Sidney Crosby: Kid Crosby was flying. He scored kind of a cheap power-play goal in the first, throwing an innocent wrister from the right wing boards short-side on Biron. I don't know, everyone keeps saying it was an intended pass that went off Lasse Kukkonen, but to me it looked like a deliberate shot that went straight in. I could never see it hit Kukkonen. But I drink a lot.
There was one shift in the first when Crosby and Hossa took turns toying with the Flyers, protecting the puck better than the Secret Service. It was spectacular. Burgess Meredith was up on the apron ready to throw in the towel.
In the third period, Sid blistered a backhander from the slot off the crossbar. It was a bullet. He's got the best backhand in hockey. It's one time when his straight blade comes in handy. But seriously, Sid, get a curve already, will ya?
Marian Hossa: Sure, he batted home a rebound on the power play, but he gets mentioned here for his defensive play. Hossa is a back-checking fiend.
Tyler Kennedy: Scottie Upshall tried to mix it up at the end of Game One, and Kennedy has an excellent memory. He challenged Upshall just 3:49 into Game Two, laying the smacketh down on his roody poo candy ass. Kennedy was swinging for the fences. It was a good scrap.
Sergei Gonchar: Gonchar recorded three assists in 27:11, but the impressive thing was he actually had two hits, including one serious crack on Hartnell. Who knew?