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Penguins notebook: 1st game goes well for Martin

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins defenseman Paul Martin looks to clear the zone in the second period against the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.
By Josh Yohe
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 8:34 p.m.
 

PHILADELPHIA — Paul Martin was steady Saturday.

It was a promising start — one the Penguins will gladly take.

Martin, admittedly coming off his worst — and most confounding — NHL season, exuded confidence and poise in the Penguins' 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

Indeed, he was on the ice for the Flyers' only goal.

However, there was not a lot he could have done to prevent Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell's sweet set-up of center Claude Giroux, whose goal early in the second period cut the Penguins' lead in half.

Thanks to Martin's skating, that Flyers' rush was 2-on-2 instead of 2-on-1. Martin's positioning forced Hartnell wide and required him to make a perfect pass.

“There's a little rust there, it's not going to be perfect,” said Martin.

He finished with two assists and three blocks — the stick-on-puck variety that Penguins coach Dan Bylsma prefers — while playing a team-high 24:07, mostly with new defense partner Brooks Orpik.

A handful more games like that this month, and there is a chance Martin may have fewer critics in Pittsburgh, where his $5 million cap hit has become the go-to gripe for critical Penguins fans.

Vokoun gets start

Bylsma doesn't frequently divulge his goaltender plans — even within 24 hours of games — but he isn't hiding anything regarding this weekend's schedule. Tomas Vokoun, who is expected to see a significant workload, will start against the Rangers on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Vokoun possesses a 4-4-1 lifetime record and 2.65 goals-against average at Madison Square Garden.

So, so close

Nine months later, the Flyers had a close offside call go against them.

Center Danny Briere was infamously offside by a fairly wide margin — nothing was called — when he scored a goal that triggered the Flyers' 4-3 comeback victory in Game 1 of last season's playoff series.

In the third period Saturday, Giroux broke behind the Penguins' defense and received a pass from Hartnell that would have resulted in a breakaway. Instead, the play was called offside. Replays did not offer conclusive evidence that the call was incorrect.

Surprise addition

Center Dustin Jeffrey's career was derailed nearly two years ago at Wells Fargo Center when he sustained a torn ACL just as he was beginning to find his niche in the NHL.

When the NHL season finally began Saturday, Jeffrey was a surprise entry into the lineup, playing instead of center Joe Vitale.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Jeffrey could play a significant role this season.

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