Penguins' depth prevails

STEVE SIMMONS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Steve Downie has spent much of his hockey career answering for his occasional errors in judgment.

Last night, the rookie who played the least number of shifts for the Philadelphia Flyers, had to answer for an error he made with the puck.

"I cost us the game," Downie mumbled in the Flyers dressing room, finishing his sentence by snorting a four-letter word.

"No excuses, no excuses. I blew it."

It was late in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia tied, rested fourth line playing against rested fourth line, when the puck came to Downie on the far boards. It should have been much ado about nothing.

And all he had to do was chip the puck out.

He does that and maybe there's overtime last night and who knows, maybe there's a tie in the best-of-seven series, instead of a 2-0 lead for the Penguins.

"It's stupid," said Downie, who didn't dress for Game 1. He was dressed for the game to provide the Flyers with an emotional spark.

"I just fanned on the puck," he said. "There's a lot of different plays I could have did. I just blew it."

When he fanned on the puck on the boards, defenceman Derian Hatcher also had an opportunity to make the easy play. Only Hatcher failed also. But perhaps that late in the game you can use exhaustion as the reason for a simple play gone wrong.

"He's not used to playing that many minutes," teammate Joffrey Lupul said. "We hung in their with our defence about as long as we could and Hatch played an awful lot of minutes."

Hatcher, who is almost too immobile to match up against the speedy Penguins, logged a game-high 28 minutes and 31 seconds in Game 2, the 4-2 loss to the Penguins, playing a game-high 35 shifts.

But one shift mattered more than the others. "It's not Hatch, it's me," Downie said. "I should have done my job."

The puck ended up on the stick of Maxime Talbot, who stopped the puck, moved it, went to the net, and seconds later finished off a forechecking scramble with his second goal of the playoffs at 8:51 of the third period.

After Talbot scored, Downie immediately smashed his stick against the boards, not hiding his anger.

The undermanned Flyers, already playing without top defenceman Kimmo Timonen, played almost the entire game last night without budding star defenceman Braydon Coburn, who was badly cut with a puck early in the game. In truth, the Flyers deserved better. They were even after Mike Richards intercepted an Evgeni Malkin power-play pass and scored almost easily on a breakaway. They were trading punches with the Penguins. They were making this a series.

But Downie made his miscue and Hatcher probably was out of gas by then.

"We were right there with them," said Lupul, looking at last night as a lost opportunity. "It's not like we're playing a team that's out of our league. Even with Brayden, we were still there with them."

They were there, with every call except a disallowed goal that was a goal, going against them. They were there without Coburn or Timonen. They were there until they weren't.

"Turnovers can't happen," coach John Stevens said. "Move your feet."

Stevens would have liked to see Downie move to the puck instead of waiting for it to get to him, instead of reaching for it, instead of ...

"But that's just it. It's a learned skill and it's a costly turnover," Stevens said.

This is just another chapter of the Steve Downie story. There will be no suspension from this, but maybe a benching.

The kid doesn't play much but he can't help but be the story. Last night, not the kind of story anyone wants to be.

"Bleep," Downie said when he asked how he felt. "I like bleep."

And as he walked out of the Flyers dressing room, Downie barked out a four-letter word to no one in particular, his comment on the night.

"He's a good kid," Stevens said. "He'll get over it."

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NO GOAL

What looked to be a certain Sidney Crosby goal late in the first period last night was ruled no goal. Neither the referees on the ice nor the video judges off the ice -- or in the Toronto head office -- determined that an obvious goal was a no-goal.

"Since video review of the play proved inconclusive as to if the puck crossed the goal line, the call of no goal on the ice stands," the league later said in a statement.

MARIO MAGIC

Owner Mario Lemieux has been rather quiet as the series has begun, declining all interview requests. But when asked recently if Malkin reminded him of anybody, he said: "Yeah, me."

THAT'S HOCKEY

Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final was far more spirited, more entertaining and more physical than the series opener. An early fight between Scottie Upshall and Tyler Kennedy got things going.

PITCHING IN

Veteran Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine was in attendance. He's an avid hockey fan and a former Los Angeles Kings draft pick in 1984.

POINT-GETTERS

Pittsburgh G A P

Sergei Gonchar 0 3 3

Sidney Crosby 1 1 2

Maxime Talbot 1 0 1

Marian Hossa 1 0 1

Jordan Staal 1 0 1

Gary Roberts 0 1 1

Ryan Malone 0 1 1

Georges Laraque 0 1 1

Philadelphia

Jeff Carter 1 0 1

Mike Richards 1 0 1

Joffrey Lupul 0 1 0

Jaroslav Modry 0 1 1


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