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Biron giving Flyers boost with strong net play @NHLdotcom

VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) - Martin Biron had more children (two) than career playoff wins (none) only three weeks ago.

Now make Biron's tally 5-3 in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Biron and his wife, Ann Marie, had a baby girl two weeks ago and the proud pop has barely had time to enjoy her. That's because the playoff rookie starter has been strong enough in the net that he's made the Flyers hopeful of cradling a different bundle of joy - the Stanley Cup.

Ask any impatient Philly sports fan, winning a title would easily trump birth for the city's biggest miracle.

Biron was sensational in Philadelphia's 4-2 win over Montreal in Game 2 with 34 saves, and evened the series at 1-1. Biron's best stop might have come on a nifty glove save that denied Tomas Plekanec late in the second period on a breakaway attempt.

"You feel like you take over the whole net," Biron said Sunday. "When the guy comes down to shoot, he's not seeing anything. The way the guys play in front of me allow me to make my reads, challenge when I have to challenge, stay deep when I have to stay deep, and I think that's been one of the differences in the playoffs."

Montreal took 16 shots in the first period and 13 more in the second, which dwarfed the Flyers' game total of 23.

"To play a game like last night and come out on top is definitely rewarding and it's fun," Biron said.

All it took to get to this point was 10 years of NHL hockey without facing a playoff shot on goal. Biron was stuck on the bench in Buffalo and never got to experience the thrill or the pressure of playing with the season on the line. Now that he's here, Biron's made up for lost time.

He posted a shutout for his first playoff victory in Game 2 of the first-round series win against Washington. Then he had 39 saves in Philadelphia's Game 7 overtime victory against the Capitals that ended his winless mark this season (0-for-5) in the second of back-to-back games.

"There's eight teams competing for the Stanley Cup, so why not us?" Biron said. "It's the same thing for me. There are two goalies playing. Why shouldn't I be the guy to win the game."

Biron, 5-4 with a 2.73 GAA in the playoffs, never had the chance to throw up his arms in celebration with the Sabres. Oddly, watching from the bench only made Biron more nervous than he's ever been before a big game with the Flyers.

"You get jitters when you're starting, but when you're on the ice, you actually feel like you control something," Biron said. "You're so focused on what you've got to do that you don't have that feeling like you want to throw up every time there's a shot on the net."

Biron hasn't been perfect - the Flyers wasted a two-goal lead in each of their Game 1 losses this postseason.

Alex Kovalev scored with 28.6 seconds left in the third to force overtime, then Tom Kostopoulos ended it 48 seconds into the extra session in the Canadiens' 4-3 victory on Friday.

"We saw in Game 1 there were a couple I didn't control the way I wanted to and you can't have that happen in the playoffs," Biron said.

Kostopoulos antagonized the Flyers again in Game 2 when he intentionally threw a blindside punch at defenseman Kimmo Timonen after R.J. Umberger scored for Philadelphia. Kostopoulos, reacting to Timonen smiling at him as he skated away after the goal, was given a roughing minor.

"I thought it was a little bit cheap," Flyers coach John Stevens said.

Flyers center Mike Richards called the play "gutless."

Timonen said he didn't say anything to provoke Kostopoulos and didn't want to discuss the incident Sunday.

"I said something after (the skirmish), but I don't want to repeat it," he said.

Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau watched the replay and called the punch a normal reaction to the Flyers' taunting.

"I think he deserved it," Carbonneau said. "That's why they didn't call any (major) penalties on it."

Flyers forward Scottie Upshall also was whistled for a roughing minor after he got involved in the skirmish.

The Flyers could get a boost this week if veteran forward Mike Knuble returns sooner than expected from a hamstring injury. Knuble, who hasn't played since he suffered a partial tear of his left hamstring in a Game 5 loss to Washington, skated on Sunday while the rest of the Flyers were off and said he was ready to play.

"I feel right now I'd be healthy enough to play a game," Knuble said.

Knuble had 29 goals and 26 assists during the regular season, and scored the winning goal in double overtime against the Caps in Game 4.

Knuble said after his skate that he felt better and was encouraged he could play in Wednesday's Game 4. Stevens said Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin told him Knuble was close to coming back.

"If he was able to get back Wednesday, that'd be great," Stevens said.

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