Jagr, Talbot Laugh Last In Return To Pittsburgh

29 Dec

The most important thing was that the Flyers didn’t lose three in a row. It would have been the first time all season they had done so. But make no mistake about it — Peter Laviolette knew the game meant a little more to Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot. The former helped the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Penguins, keeping them undefeated in the Consol Energy Center.

Laviolette started the line of Jagr, Talbot and Claude Giroux for one ceremonial shift. That meant a return to Pittsburgh for Jagr and Talbot.

Once that line left the ice, the Flyers were behind the 8-ball. Tyler Kennedy found Jordan Staal at the right side of the Flyers’ net and he had a wide open net to shoot the puck into as starter Sergei Bobrovsky had already committed to Kennedy.

But the Flyers struck back. On the power play, Giroux found Kimmo Timonen at the point on a power play and the defenseman one-timed the puck over the glove of Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the score.

In the second period, however, the big statement was made. With fans mercifully booing Jagr each time he touched the puck, he was given a drop pass from Scott Hartnell and carried in, danced between two defenders and backhanded a shot past Fleury. It was a classic Jagr goal, kind of like one of the 439 he had as a Penguin.

Jagr hunched over along the boards, as if to avoid the rain of boos, and made his trademarked salute, seemingly directed at a fan who gave him a salute of his own (although of the one-finger variety).

Second periods had given the Flyers trouble in recent games, but against the Penguins they won the period 2-0, making the most of their six shots on goal.

Matt Read added the second tally of the period, snapping a nine-game goalless drought when Sean Couturier, who returned to the lineup after a head injury kept him out four games, took a shot that bounced off the leg pad of Fleury and right in the slot for Read to bury.

In the third, Kennedy made it interesting with a blast over Bobrovsky’s glove side where there was precious space available. In the game’s final minute, Talbot tallied on an empty net for his 10th of the year, completing a storybook ending for the former Penguins.

Bobrovsky did his part as well, making 24 saves. His performance gives him a fourth career win over Pittsburgh and begs the question: Does he get the start in the Winter Classic?

For now, the Flyers will just focus on the fact that Jagr silenced some boos, they avoided a third straight loss, and put them in a tie with the Rangers for the first place in the division.

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