Fleury a bright spot among struggling Penguins in playoffs
With all around him crumbling, Marc-Andre Fleury is standing tall.
The Penguins goaltender hasn't extinguished his postseason demons yet, but he has looked more comfortable in the Stanley Cup playoff spotlight than his teammates.
Given how ineffective the Penguins have been for large portions against the Blue Jackets, Fleury's continued strong play might be necessary, starting in Game 3 on Monday night at Nationwide Arena.
“He's our guy,” center Joe Vitale said, dismissing any possibility that Columbus' 4-3 win in double overtime on Saturday was attributable to Fleury.
Then, Vitale repeated himself.
“He's our guy. He's been saving us in these two games. In (Game 1) we could have been down 5-1 if not for him. I can't say enough about how good he has been.”
Fleury entered the postseason having posted a sub-.900 save percentage in each of his past four Stanley Cup playoff endeavors. Following his implosion against the Islanders last season, Fleury's 39 regular-season victories were viewed with skepticism by many.
While seven goals allowed through two playoff games is hardly the ideal number, Fleury has faced an uncommon number of quality scoring opportunities.
“We haven't been good enough in front of him,” Vitale said. “But he's been great.”
Fleury made a spectacular save on Blue Jackets center Cam Atkinson, then produced an even better one on left wing Matt Calvert, robbing him with a reflex-driven right pad save.
Calvert, however, was left unmarked for an extended period and buried his own rebound to send the Blue Jackets back to Ohio with confidence.
“We've had some times when we've really gotten hemmed into our own zone,” right wing Lee Stempniak said. “And he's made some huge saves.”
The Penguins, disgusted with their performance through two games, have been in Fleury's corner all season.
Despite all the problems they have encountered in this series — a sluggish power play, being susceptible to shorthanded goals and taking foolish penalties among them — the Penguins have received the edge in the goaltending battle.
“He held us in there,” center Sidney Crosby said of Fleury's Game 2 outing. “It's tough. You don't want to hang him out to dry there. We made some big mistakes.”
Fleury has stopped 72 of 79 shots this series.
Three of the Blue Jackets' goals have come on the power play, with of them two seeing the Penguins' defense allow a cross-ice feed to penetrate the center of the Penguins' defense, setting up a shooter for a wide-open look.
Columbus also has scored two shorthanded goals. One came from center Derek McKenzie, who beat Fleury on a breakaway. Calvert beat Fleury on a three-on-one for the other.
Fleury has permitted just two even-strength goals in this series.
The man surrounded by so many question marks entering the playoffs appears to be among the most stable contributors on a team that has displayed poor defensive execution and even worse decision making with the puck.
“We have all the confidence in the world in him,” Vitale 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.
- Mears savors success, credits legendary Lange for guidance, inspiration
- Penguins minor league notebook: Pouliot impresses early in season
- Penguins notebook: Penguins getting fewer power-play opportunities
- Islanders outwork Penguins to sweep back-to-back meetings
- New assistant Agnew has Pens’ PK, defense among league’s best
- Rossi: For Penguins’ Dupuis, family must come first
- Penguins’ Dupuis diagnosed with blood clot in lung
- Penguins fans from England, Spain journey across pond to Pittsburgh
- Penguins’ Maatta impresses with how he’s handled tumor adversity
- Starkey: Pens move on with, without Dupuis
- Penguins notebook: Dupuis’ absence will alter roles on penalty kill