Fleury lifts Penguins past Blue Jackets
By Josh Yohe
Published: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013, 9:51 p.m.
Sergei Bobrovsky collected the Vezina Trophy last summer. Marc-Andre Fleury collected himself.
Fleury has tied his finest start to a season at 10-2. He stopped 37 shots in a game that saw Columbus outshoot the Penguins, 39-27.
“Our goaltender was absolutely great tonight,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “Columbus carried the play for stretches.”
Bobrovsky tasted defeat for only the second time in seven career appearances at Consol Energy Center.
While a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, Bobrovsky won the first game in the arena's history and generally has been unbeatable, his only loss coming in an meaningless game to close the 2011-12 season.
Bobrovsky, though, was no match for the Penguins.
Goals by Chris Kunitz, Brandon Sutter and Kris Letang prompted Columbus coach Todd Richards to pull Bobrovsky, perhaps preserving him for Saturday's rematch at Nationwide Arena.
“It's nice to chase any goalie, whether he won the Vezina or not,” right wing Pascal Dupuis said. “We just need to keep doing the same things we did against him, and we'll be fine.”
Bylsma did not name a goaltender for Saturday. The numbers suggest Fleury gives the Penguins the best chance to win. The Penguins are 0-2 and have allowed 10 goals in the two games backup Jeff Zatkoff has played.
Although the final score indicates otherwise, the Penguins hardly were dominant during their first game of the season against Columbus, now a member of the Eastern Conference.
Columbus held a 15-9 edge in first-period shots, and only Fleury's play and Kunitz's seventh goal lifted the Penguins to a lead.
“Marc-Andre did it again,” Dupuis said. “He was just so sharp. He won us the game tonight.”
Fleury made notable saves on forwards R.J. Umberger, Blake Comeau and Nick Foligno before the game was 10 minutes old.
The 28-year-old goaltender looked as athletic as ever, and with the exception of a couple of early long-range shots, did not permit any tempting rebounds.
“I felt pretty good from the beginning,” Fleury said. “Felt sharp. They had some good chances early, but then we started playing pretty well.”
Bobrovsky wasn't asked to make many quality saves early, but when the Penguins increased the pressure late in the second period, he wasn't the same goaltender who once owned the Penguins.
Kunitz's deflection gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead.
Sutter and Letang scored quickly in the second period to break the game open. Bobrovsky had a good view of Sutter's wrist shot and Letang's one-timer, but both slid through the goaltender's legs.
Fleury has a good view of seemingly every shot right now.
“It's a good win for us,” he said. “We got the job done.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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