Penguins' decision on goaltending crucial for Game 3
Tomas Vokoun's dream stretch in the Penguins' net ended at the 16:31 mark of the first period Monday at Consol Energy Center.
Marc-Andre Fleury's nightmare resumed shortly thereafter.
The Penguins generally were a mess in their 6-1 setback in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final against the Boston Bruins, and their goaltending situation is more unstable than ever.
Just who will start Game 3?
“It's the coach's decision,” said goalie Tomas Vokoun, who was yanked late in the first period after allowing three goals.
“I'm a player. I'm ready to play any time they tell me.”
Vokoun wasn't impressed with his team's performance.
“We just didn't play a good game,” he said. “We just deviated from our game plan. They are too good of a team to try to outscore. They're not going to let you do that. Every time we beat them this year, it was a tight-checking game. We were going to use a 1-0 or 2-1 mentality. We didn't do a very good job of staying focused tonight.”
Vokoun believes too many Penguins are attempting to win the game on their own. Some teamwork, he believes, could go a long way as opposed to individualism.
“We've got to change our mindset,” he said. “Play differently. We have to stay focused on our game plan. That means you play for 60 minutes. Unfortunately, we gave up the first goal in both games. At that point, everyone tries to do it on their own. That just doesn't work.”
Vokoun, the starter since recording a shutout in Game 5 against the New York Islanders in the first round, allowed three first-period goals and received the hook.
The first goal came on a breakaway, the second on defenseman Kris Letang's turnover and the third on a ghastly defensive breakdown, but coach Dan Bylsma had decided that six goals in the first four periods of the series was enough and summoned Fleury.
“It's tough,” Bylsma said. “I don't think there's a lot of fault in those three goals by the goaltender. It's tough to evaluate, given the breakdowns and the scoring chances they scored on.”
“I didn't feel they were bad goals,” Vokoun said. “But that's part of hockey. I'm sure the coach wanted to change the momentum.”
Fleury, the goaltender who once famously always made the big save at the right moment, has provided precisely the opposite in recent springs.
It happened again Monday.
He took the ice to a standing ovation late in the first period, the crowd encouraging him like in past times when the goaltender had dealt with struggles. Historically, Fleury responds to such adversity.
Not on this night.
Only 25 seconds after center Brandon Sutter pumped life into the Penguins with their only goal of this series, Fleury let an imminently stoppable, unscreened Brad Marchand shot beat his glove.
Fleury allowed two more goals.
“I tried to get there as fast as possible,” Fleury said of Marchand's goal, which was the backbreaker. “It's been a long time. That goal gave them the momentum right back.”
Fleury wasn't interested in predicting who will start Game 3.
“Don't ask me. No ... don't ask.”