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Pens' 'Flower' blooms in elimination game

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marc-Andre Fleury survived the first flurry of shots by the Detroit Red Wings only 2:30 into the third period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final Tuesday night at Mellon Arena, stopping three in a span of seven seconds.

It was a sign of the defensive stand the Penguins would have to endure to defeat the defending champion Red Wings, 2-1, and force a Game 7.

"The first two periods were almost perfectly close," Penguins D Rob Scuderi said. "The last period, we got away from it a little bit."

Fleury withstood 14 shots in the final 20 minutes - including a breakaway — and the Penguins' goalie turned back all but a Kris Draper rebound. Fleury kicked out his left leg to stop a shot by Detroit RW Daniel Cleary, who skated past D Brooks Orpik at the blue line and went forehand-to-backhand.

"Since I'm young, I've been dreaming about making a save on a breakaway for the Cup," Fleury said. "So to have a chance like this to get that thing, it's awesome."

Although the Penguins allowed their only goal in the third period, they twice killed penalties (after giving up three power-play goals in Game 5) and successfully fought off the Red Wings in a frantic final minute.

Only 1:17 after Draper cut it to 2-1, Evgeni Malkin drew a cross-checking penalty. D Hal Gill blocked a Brian Rafalski shot. Fleury stopped Detroit C Henrik Zetterberg's 27-foot wrist shot. D Brooks Orpik blocked a Marian Hossa shot. Fleury stopped a 37-foot wrister by Pavel Datsyuk.

Soon after that PK, Bill Guerin was called for high-sticking, forcing Fleury to withstand shots by D Nicklas Lidstrom, RW Mikael Samuelsson, LW Tomas Holmstrom and Datsyuk again.

Finally, Detroit pulled goalie Chris Osgood with 1:12 remaining. The defense had to overcome an onslaught of shots, including one from the right point by Rafalski. Scuderi came to Fleury's rescue, making two stops himself on RW Johan Franzen in the crease with 13.2 seconds remaining.

For Fleury, it was redemption. He allowed the game-winning goal to slip under him in Game 6 last year, and watched the Red Wings celebrate with the Cup. Fleury also struggled in the 5-0 defeat in Game 5 last Saturday.

"It's a great feeling that we've won that one," Fleury said. "Last year was tough, to lose it and to see the other team have the Cup. Now that we're still alive, we have a chance to go to Game 7, it's awesome."

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