After breezing through a 6-1 shellacking of the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night, Marc-Andre Fleury must have known things would be far different at the Wachovia Center.
Penguins 3 — Flyers 2
One thing’s for sure, his focus traveled with him to Philly.
Fleury stopped 31 of 33 shots as well as both of Philadelphia’s shootout attempts as the Pittsburgh Penguins won, 3-2, in a two-round shootout. Key saves in each period helped keep the Flyers from mounting anything more than a one-goal lead, allowing Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby to net each of their attempts in the shootout for the win.
“A shootout always starts with your goalie — you need the saves in there to give yourselves a chance to win,” Crosby said. “As a shooter you’re much more confident when you’re shootin’ to win instead of playin’ catch up. There’s not as much pressure. That really starts with Flower. He provided that cushion for our shooters to really go for it.”
It was just another stellar performance in net for Fleury, who is now 9-1-1 in his last 11 games with a goals against average of 1.88 and a save percentage well of .925.
Fleury stopped Arron Asham on a breakaway along with several rebound attempts directly after, but it was his stop in the first period that left everyone wondering just how he found the puck.
Jeff Carter threw a puck on net from the right wing and Danny Briere found the rebound just outside the crease. After a few whacks the puck lobbed into the air and Fleury fell on his back, swiping the puck out of mid-air with his glove hand to prevent the goal.
“Maybe it’s not so much technical, but it didn’t go in so that’s all that matters,” Fleury joked after the game.
“I think it was off a rebound. The guys just kept banging on it. I don’t know why, but I fell on my butt and the puck came flying over so I decided to reach out.”
The save kept the score tied, 1-1, after Carter was credited with a goal that went off Sergei Gonchar’s glove and Bill Guerin scored off a rebound in front of the net on a Penguins power play.
Claude Giroux put the Flyers back ahead two minutes in to the second period on a power play, 2-1, but the Penguins answered right back seven minutes later as Crosby found a fanned clearing attempt by Chris Pronger in the right faceoff circle and fired a slap shot above Brian Boucher’s shoulder.
With seven minutes left in the second Fleury kept the game tied again, stoning Asham on a breakaway.
“He played great. He made some really big saves throughout the game,” said Crosby of Fleury’s effort in goal.
“We made him work pretty hard in some instances, but for the most part we played pretty well and they generated some chances from their hard work.”
Both teams went scoreless in the third period and a five minute overtime period — even when both teams played a whole two minutes of 3-on-3 hockey.
In the shootout, Fleury stopped the Flyers’ first shooter, Briere, with a poke check and then Giroux as he faked a poke check and made a stick save.
Letang converted as the Penguins’ first shooter, giving Boucher a hard fake on the forehand that turned him around and left the net wide open for a backhand in. Crosby ended the shootout on the forehand — a shot he fanned on but got past Boucher.
Fleury’s performance overshadowed a solid game by the Flyers and netminder Boucher — who stopped 28 of 30 shots — as well as another dominating game by Crosby at the Wachovia Center.
“Every time we play them it’s always a good game, very intense, very good battles,” Fleury said.
“We’re a team that plays a full 60 minutes, or 65. We’ve been working on shootout a lot and it’s been paying off for us.”
Chris | PPT