HE IS THE TOWN'S best story, the way Jimmy Rollins was last summer, the way Allen Iverson was on the way to the NBA Finals, the way Keith Primeau was the last time a hockey team from this town had a run like this.

Martin Biron has all the magical little story lines working now. The new baby. The two shutouts over the Devils and the Penguins in the final two games of the regular season. His first playoff run at age 30. The run of incredible puck stopping that has occurred since.

The calm that follows each effort.

"Ah, you've got to take some and leave some," he was saying of his celebrity status after last night's 4-2 Flyers' Game 4 victory over Montreal. "When things are good people seem to want to give you flowers. When things go bad - heads up! The vase is coming at you.

"That's the way it is."

Left unsaid is that Marty would glove the vase, force a faceoff, quiet the mayhem. Last night he made 36 saves, kept his team's lead intact with one brilliant stop after another, stole another game for his team in the series. He was the star again, the reason this series could end in five games, despite what the statistics suggest.

Montreal has just one goal in the first period of this series. Their only lead, in fact, came when they won Game 1 in overtime.

"It's frustrating, obviously," Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "We just lost three games and I can't sit there with the coaching staff and try to change things or the way we play tactically. We are playing great. We have scoring chances and we don't give too much, but we lost the game. Biron is on top of his game right now. Whether he's lucky or good or extremely good, he is making the saves . . .

"I've played with one guy that made those kind of saves that were silly sometimes."

He means Ed Belfour back when Carbonneau won a Stanley Cup with Dallas, and silly is just the perfect word for it. He's right. His team has not played badly, not at all. Their greatest fault lies in their attempts to be too perfect, too pinpoint, trying to be too impossible for Biron to stop.

Alex Kovalev gets the puck in his happy spot over to Biron's left and he fires wide. Andrei Kostitsyn gets the puck alone in front and he fires it wide. Tomas Plekanec must feel like suing his stickmaker by now, so fickle has it been with his chances at the net.

It reminds you of what the Pistons said after Game 3 of their series with the Sixers, or specifically Chauncey Billups. Detroit needed to speed up its defense and slow down the offense, he said, a formula that has flipped that series in a finger snap.

The difference here is this Montreal team is almost as new to this stage as the Flyers are, and there was a five-win difference between the teams this season - not the 19-win difference between the Pistons and Sixers. The Pistons have also won a championship, been to the dance forever it seems.

These Habs have not. And at times it shows. Within the game's first minute, Guillaume Latendresse peppered Biron with two consecutive shots. Later Biron stoned Plekanec on a tip-in try just in front of the crease, then snapped up Andrei Markov's dead-on snap shot just above the circle. No rebounds, no messy saves.

Lots of frustration.

Yes, you need some luck. Monday night, three Montreal shots hit the pipes surrounding the net in the first period. Last night, Montreal sabotaged several of its best chances with those blasts that sailed wide of the net. One such blast, after the Flyers turned it over in their own zone during a second-period power play, caromed around to Danny Briere on the other blueline, initiating the odd-man rush that resulted in R.J. Umberger's goal on the other end.

If you were a Canadiens fan, it had to feel a little like Bugs Bunny stuck his finger in your gun.

But it wasn't all about bad luck. Montreal's tying goal bounced high off a Flyers defenseman and right onto Saku Koivu's stick. Biron made a big save right after that, and a routine one a little later, and this time his teammates did a little of the bailing out on their own.

Afterward, Mike Knuble, father of three like Biron, wondered out loud if a new baby was responsible for his heightened play. If so, the Flyers should send the entire team on romantic getaways in August.

"It's been a lot of fun at home, I'll tell you that," Biron said.

Sure has. For everyone. And it's now only nine wins away from the kind of magical mayhem that even Martin Biron won't be able to control. *

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