Fleury records shutout as Penguins stymie Devils in opener
Mario Lemieux delivered a message to his franchise goalie on Thursday night.
“Good job, kid,” Lemieux said to Marc-Andre Fleury after a 27-save performance that hinted at blooms from the Flower's past.
“I'm proud of you.”
Fleury's 24th shutout and 250th win in the NHL did not erase the splotches on his resume — those four consecutive postseasons in which he could not stop 90 percent of opponents' shots.
All Fleury did Thursday night was save the Penguins from possibly giving away a multiple-goal lead over the final two periods and earn the No. 1 star designation for a 3-0 victory over New Jersey at Consol Energy Center.
No teammate paid Fleury a more inspiring compliment than rookie defenseman Olli Maatta, who made his debut at age 19.
“It makes you a lot more comfortable playing your first NHL game when you know the goalie is going to make the saves,” Maatta said.
Chuck Kobasew, Sidney Crosby and Craig Adams scored the Penguins' goals, but Fleury's “awesome” work — at least as Adams saw it — started this latest pursuit of the Stanley Cup on an arena-ringing note.
“Sometimes I shake my head at the things I read,” Adams said, referring to public criticism of Fleury over the four summers since his Cup-winning save on Nicklas Lidstrom at Detroit in 2009.
“This guy's a champion. He's a great teammate. I'm happy for him. He played awesome …
“(But) I don't think it means as much as you might think. We've had confidence and will have confidence in Flower.”
Coach Dan Bylsma made that clear two days after the Penguins were swept from the Eastern Conference final, when he declared Fleury his future No. 1 goalie despite backup Tomas Vokoun's MVP-esque run after taking over in Round 1.
Bylsma simplified his reasoning for that decision.
“I believe Marc-Andre Fleury is a very good goalie,” Bylsma said. “I think he's proven that time and time again.”
Fleury proved that against New Jersey with two highlight-reel saves after Adams' goal.
The Devils had outshot the Penguins, 14-8, from the start of the second period until Adams ripped a shot past New Jersey goalie Corey Schneider with about eight minutes remaining in regulation.
A few seconds later, Fleury, from behind his back, blindly caught in his left-handed mitt a puck that had rattled off the near post. That denied Devils center Travis Zajac.
“I heard the post,” Fleury said. “I felt it on my back, and I just wanted to reach as quickly as possible. From watching the Pirates, I guess.”
About five minutes later, with 3:59 remaining, Fleury sprawled his right-leg pad across the blue-painted crease to stone Devils winger Adam Henrique on a penalty shot.
New Jersey coach Peter DeBoer suggested Fleury prevented his club from a more deserving result.
Fleury, who was mandated by Penguins management to see the team's sports psychologist over the summer, said he was just “happy to get this win.”
Happier, based off the sellout crowd's reaction, were the fans for him.
“Hopefully the support the fans showed for him will go a long way,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Stat dropoff, road struggles have Penguins seeking consistency
- For Penguins coach Johnston, it’s a matter of substance over style
- Lapierre eager to make mark with Penguins
- Crosby banned from Jets game because he missed All-Star Game
- Capitals dominate overmatched Penguins in win at Verizon Center
- Penguins notebook: Johnston pleased with Downie’s all-around play
- Penguins notebook: Letang’s status vs. Jets uncertain
- Penguins get physical, trade Goc for Blues’ Lapierre
- Penguins notebook: Crosby understands NHL’s reasoning for ban
- Starkey: What are Penguins, Pirates up to?
- Rossi: Crosby’s debt to NHL paid in full