By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 14, 2008
Two days after looking decidedly ordinary in his NHL playoff debut, Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Martin Biron returned to the form that saw him finish the regular season with a 5-1-1 record, including shutouts in his final two starts.
With 24 saves -- including a number at critical moments -- Biron kept the Flyers in the game early, then made sure they held on for a 2-0 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at Verizon Center.
Being the first star of the game, however, figures to be only the start of an exciting 12 hours for Biron. He told reporters after the game that his wife, Anne Marie, is scheduled to give birth to their third child by Caesarean section at 5 a.m.
"It was big," Biron said of the win. "I was comfortable early on because we took the 1-0 lead. Then going up 2-0 makes you a little more comfortable to be able to play your game and know can challenge a little bit."
After a shot by Alexander Semin rang off the crossbar in the opening minute, Biron, 30, was there with a glove, pad or stick for everything else.
Just ask Matt Cooke, who twice stood alone in front of Biron with the puck on his stick, only to be turned away empty-handed.
"He made some good saves; he stopped me in the first, and he stopped in the third," Cooke said. "He played well. I give him credit. But in playoff time, you have to be able to overcome a hot goalie."
Biron's defining save came early in the third period, with the Flyers on the power play. Capitals center David Steckel stole the puck from Vaclav Prospal at the Philadelphia blueline and broke in alone. Biron came out and challenged Steckel, then sprawled the length of the crease to prevent Steckel from getting off a shot.
"You've just got to make yourself as big as possible, and if it hits your shoulder, good," Biron said. "We went to practice yesterday, and it was a good practice. I got a lot of shots, a lot of angled shuts, a lot of pucks. It made me feel good in net."
As for the birth of his child -- he said the couple doesn't know the gender -- the delivery was originally scheduled for Friday but was moved to today because the Flyers will be traveling back to Washington for Game 5.
"The doctor said, 'I got you early so you can go to practice,' " Biron joked.Schultz Returns for Capitals
Jeff Schultz returned to the lineup after missing Game 1 because of an undisclosed injury and skated 18 minutes 26 seconds, the third-highest total among Washington defenseman. Left wing Quintin Laing, right wing Eric Fehr, defenseman Steve Eminger and goaltender Brent Johnson were healthy scratches. . . .
Right wing Chris Clark (groin tendon) and defenseman Brian Pothier (concussion) were out.