PITTSBURGH - Losing on an Evgeni Malkin goal, or Sidney Crosby goal, the Philadelphia Flyers might understand.
Losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins on fourth-line forward Max Talbot's goal will be very difficult for the Flyers to deal with, especially in a series that is fast slipping away from them.
Talbot, a checking-line forward on a team renowned for its stars, scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period and the Penguins took a two-game lead in the Eastern Conference finals by beating the Flyers, 4-2, last night.
Crosby and Marian Hossa also scored and Jordan Staal added an empty-net goal in the final minute for Pittsburgh, which won after twice giving away leads.
Pittsburgh won the first two games at home for the third consecutive series, with Game 3 set for tomorrow night in Philadelphia. The Flyers won their first two playoff rounds after losing Game 1, but this is the first time they also lost Game 2 on the road.
"We've played in a Game 7 where if you lose, you go home," said goalie Martin Biron. "Game 3 isn't like that, but it's as close as it's going to get."
The Penguins' winner came from a player who had missed the previous three games with a broken right foot.
"It's something special - I was happy as a kid just to be back out there," Talbot said. "It was extra special to get the game-winner."
Gary Roberts, who turns 42 this month, carried the puck behind the net after the Flyers' Steve Downie turned it over near the blue line, and defenseman Derian Hatcher went with Roberts. That left Talbot open in the slot, and Roberts put a backhander onto his stick for Talbot's second playoff goal, at 8:51 of the third.
Downie, scratched for Game 1, was inserted to give the Flyers more of a physical presence, but will be remembered for giving up the puck up on the decisive goal.
Philadelphia tied it at 2 when Mike Richards intercepted Malkin's risky cross-ice pass on a power play, got loose on a breakaway, and beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot with 24 seconds remaining in the second period.
Philadelphia played most of the game with five defensemen after Braydon Coburn was struck in the face by Hal Gill's shot on his first shift. Coburn, struck near the left eye, left the ice bleeding and did not return.