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Penguins-Flyers Preview

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Martin Biron is more concerned with the pregame music than his contract situation. He can earn a bigger payday and keep the Philadelphia Flyers' season going with another standout performance.

Biron helped the Flyers avoid elimination by stopping 28 shots for his second career playoff shutout in Thursday night's 3-0 win at Pittsburgh. Game 6 is Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, where a hyped-up crowd surely will be ready for Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Penguins.

Desperate to extend the series, the Flyers turned to their often-criticized goaltender. Biron isn't considered among the elite goalies in the NHL, and he didn't even become the clear No. 1 for Philadelphia until late in the season. But he's been outstanding in the playoffs.

Before Game 5, coach John Stevens told Biron in front of the team that he needed to be great. Biron responded to the challenge by making 15 saves in the first period, keeping the Flyers in the game and quieting Pittsburgh's fans.

Then Philadelphia settled in and got a huge momentum boost when fourth-line forward Arron Asham scored the go-ahead goal in the second period. That was all Biron needed. He single-handedly made sure the Flyers would play another game.

"We're not looking at wining the series tomorrow," Biron said Friday. "We're looking at pushing it to Game 7."

Biron and his teammates know how difficult it is to close out a series after taking a 3-1 lead. In the first round last year, they blew a 3-1 lead against the Washington Capitals before winning Game 7 on the road in overtime.

"I remember last year after Game 6, sitting on the train to go to Washington and thinking that we just let a very good opportunity slip away," Biron said. "But when I got to the rink the next day and you're getting dressed, it's, 'Do we have the music in the room that gets us going?' It's the same thing being down 3-2. You think about it. As huge as yesterday was, tomorrow is even bigger. You're home and you got to win."

It all starts with hearing the right tunes in the locker room. Maybe some Metallica, Disturbed or Drowning Pool will fire up the Flyers.

"That's a secret. I can't let you guys in on it," Biron said, laughing. "If I let you know, you wouldn't even know what it is because I don't know what half the music is. It's not Olivia Newton-John, that's for sure."

The easygoing Biron is clearly focused on trying to help the Flyers win their first Stanley Cup since 1975. He'll become a free agent after the season, but he's not ready to discuss his future.

"Who cares right now?" he said. "That's so far down (compared to) the importance of the game and the playoffs and all that."

Despite their win in Pittsburgh, the Flyers still have a huge challenge. They're 0-13 in series after trailing 3-1, and haven't even forced a Game 7 since losing to Edmonton in the 1987 Stanley Cup finals.

Pittsburgh hasn't blown a 3-1 series lead since losing to the New York Islanders 34 years ago. Odds heavily favor the Penguins, too. Only 8.7 percent (20-of-229) of NHL teams that trailed a playoff series 3-1 rallied to win.

"We're still winning the series," Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. "We're recognizing it's going to be tough for us and we have to play better, but momentum-wise I don't think that's a concern."

The Penguins expect a loud, hostile environment at the Wachovia Center, where Flyers fans usually make things uncomfortable for visiting teams. The best way to silence the die-hards is to score early. A couple quick goals and those orange-clad maniacs just as easily will turn on their team.

"We know what to expect, it's up to us to dictate that with our play," Crosby said. "The first goal is nice and it's talked about so often, but if you believe in the way you play, it doesn't matter. We believe if we put 60 minutes together, no matter who scores the first goal, we give ourselves a good chance to win. It'd be great to get it, especially on the road to get the crowd out of it if possible, but if it doesn't work, we'll just continue to play our game."


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