Max Talbot hopped over the boards in Philadelphia and knew he had to do something. His Penguins were down 3-0 to the Flyers and seemed to be on the verge of playing a Game Seven in the first round of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs that they wanted no part of. But his hands were misfiring as badly as his teammates.
Rather than wait, Talbot seized the moment. Rather than put those hands to work in front of the net the 25 year old decided to use them on an old minor league teammate, Daniel Carcillo who had never heard of letting sleeping dogs lie.
Talbot got pummeled in the fight that ensued but his willingness to take one for the team was not lost on his teammates who proceeded to fire five straight goals past Flyer netminder Martin Biron and send the Flyers home without the need of Game Seven.
Fast forward about two months and a throbbing Joe Louis Arena. The hockey world said the Pens were as dead as the octopus they dodged during pre-game ceremonies. Surely a team lead by 21 year old Sidney Crosby who was having a tough time even growing a playoff beard couldn't stand up to the history, the pressure and the noise.
Crosby started the evening by wiffing on a shot in the high slot. Seconds later eventual Conn Smythe Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin couldn't get wood to a cross ice pass. Through the first 20 minutes of play the Pens took the game to Detroit, but had nothing to show for it.
Again it was Talbot to the rescue. Trying to cycle the puck low he and Malkin cut off the Wings favorite passing lane from below the goal line and jumped on an errant pass. Talbot suddenly found himself with room and time in the slot and this time his hands massaged a wrist shot through Chris Osgood.
Minutes later Crosby went down and Talbot again took the stage. Jumping on a breakout pass he skated about 100 feet closer to the Detroit net before he blew a half slapper over Chris Osgood's glove. The hands that Malkin had said more than once this season were made of stone had driven the fatal dagger into the Wings heart.
Max Talbot. Giant killer.
The last guy to score a Cup winning goal made it all of the way to the Hall of Fame. Chances are that Max Talbot's portrait isn't going to be hanging anywhere near that of Ron Francis in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But it will appear very near by on the Stanley Cup.