Penguins notebook: Fleury feeling sharp entering tough stretch
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The feel-good victory Friday in Anaheim saw many Penguins play a key role.
Without goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's performance, however, the Penguins never would have had an opportunity for a comeback victory.
While the Penguins were being dominated in the game's first half, Fleury put on a show.
“He's been great all season,” right wing Craig Adams said. “And he certainly was tonight.”
Fleury said he is feeling particularly sharp. He endured one tough outing — the team's 6-5 shootout loss to Montreal on Feb. 27 — after the Olympic break. That performance was understandable because he hadn't played in 20 days.
Since then, he lost an outdoor game in Chicago before responding with strong performances in Nashville and Anaheim.
“Even Chicago wasn't too bad for me,” Fleury said. “It was in a blizzard.”
He stopped 47 of 50 shots his past two outings.
Fleury knows big tests are coming with back-to-back games against the Capitals and Flyers this week. He sounds ready.
“It's good to be back playing again, and I think I'm ready to go,” he said.
Although neither appears to be a long-term injury, the Penguins did not escape the West Coast unscathed.
Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (upper-body) was injured Thursday in San Jose and did not play against the Ducks. Right wing Brian Gibbons, initially thought to be a healthy scratch in Anaheim, did not play against the Ducks because of what coach Dan Bylsma referred to as a lower-body injury.
Gibbons had been seeing a significant amount of time on the top line with center Sidney Crosby and left wing Chris Kunitz.
With Gibbons out of the lineup, newly acquired right wing Lee Stempniak played on the top line.
It remains unknown if Bortuzzo or Gibbons will be available against Washington on Monday. Bylsma said each player is “day-to-day.”
Defenseman Deryk Engelland, a healthy scratch in San Jose, replaced Bortuzzo against the Ducks and promptly scored a goal on his team's first shot.
Engelland scoring a goal, once a shock, doesn't seem surprising. He has six goals this season, three while playing on the fourth line and three others from his natural position on the blue line.
Bylsma was asked if Engelland's newfound goal-scoring touch is making it difficult to keep him off the fourth line.
“Maybe it doesn't matter where I play him,” Bylsma said with a smile. “He was good on defense for us. He played a real strong game.”
Changing things up
Bylsma removed Jussi Jokinen from the second line against the Ducks, replacing him with left wing Taylor Pyatt.
The move worked.
Bylsma called the second line his team's best in the third period in Anaheim and noted that Pyatt's “big body” made a difference playing with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. Jokinen, meanwhile, seemed to click with center Brandon Sutter. They played together in Carolina three years ago.
“I don't think keeping anything together after the first 25 or 30 minutes was in order,” Bylsma said.
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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