- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 17, 2012

VOORHEES, N.J. — Sidney Crosby got too caught up in his hatred for the Philadelphia Flyers to recall that one of his best friends wears the orange and black.

No worries, though. Max Talbot isn’t going to delete Crosby’s number from his cellphone.

“He’s definitely a great friend,” Talbot said Tuesday. “He was heated up in the moment and that’s OK. It’s not like I’m not going to talk to him after the series.”

Crosby and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins lost their cool in a fight-filled 8-4 loss to the Flyers that put them on the brink of getting swept out of their first-round playoff series.

The Flyers can eliminate the heavily favored Penguins and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a win in Game 4 Wednesday night at Wells Fargo Center. Whatever happens, it’ll be hard to live up to Game 3.

People everywhere are still talking about one of the most thrilling NHL games in recent memory. Fists flew faster than pucks, and goals were scored at a ridiculous pace.

Crosby, the often-concussed former MVP, was at the center of it all. He instigated several scrums, and even dropped the gloves in a rare superstar vs. superstar fight against Claude Giroux.

Afterward, Crosby said: “I don’t like any guy on their team.”

That’s news to Talbot, who was Crosby’s teammate for six seasons in Pittsburgh before signing a free agent deal with the Flyers last summer. Talbot scored both of the Penguins‘ goals in a Stanley Cup clinching victory over Detroit in Game 7 in 2009. The two players are close friends, and they even appeared together in a Reebok commercial at Crosby’s parents’ house in Nova Scotia.

Asked if he was surprised by Crosby’s antics in Game 3, Talbot replied: “Yes and no.”

Crosby twice jabbed goalie Ilya Bryzgalov’s glove against the ice after the whistle, and then poked aside Jakub Voracek’s glove when he bent down to pick it up. Crosby then went after mild-mannered Kimmo Timonen, setting off his “wrestling match” with Giroux.

“I see Sid as such a great competitor,” Talbot said. “When things don’t go his way, he tries to do other things. He’s kind of like me, but with 10 times more skill. He’s going to do everything he can to spark his team to get a win.”

The Flyers are fine with whatever Crosby tries.

“He’s one of the best players in the league. It’s good that he’s frustrated. He doesn’t focus as much on his game,” Voracek said.

Crosby certainly will get more than an earful from the boisterous Flyers fans. Many are calling him a “cry baby” and some plan to bring diapers to the rink, if they’re allowed to sneak those past security.

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