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Fleury flounders, but usually rebounds

| Sunday, April 24, 2011

Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had been pulled from one Stanley Cup playoff game — his first in 2007 — before Dan Bylsma took over as coach prior to the 2009 postseason.

Bylsma pulled Fleury for a third time in the past 21 playoff games Saturday during an 8-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Consol Energy Center in Game 5 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series. Fleury made 10 saves and allowed four goals in 14 minutes, 29 seconds.

Fleury, though, has a history of playing his best after looking his worst.

He allowed just four goals in two previous playoff starts that followed an early exit. The Penguins won both games: 4-3 in Game 2 of a first-round series at Ottawa in 2007 and 2-1 at Mellon Arena in Game 6 of the 2009 Cup Final.

Bylsma pulled Fleury from Game 7 of the Penguins' Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Montreal Canadiens last postseason. The Penguins lost, 5-2, and Fleury was not allowed a chance for redemption.

In all, Fleury is 14-7 following a playoff loss and has allowed two or fewer goals in eight of those contests.

Accuracy, if not accurate

The Lightning had been stymied by Fleury before Game 5, scoring eight times on 110 shots.

Coach Guy Boucher said the difference yesterday was "we shot the puck."

"The last few games we didn't," he said. "We were waiting for a better play all the time. We got back to our identity, which is getting shots on net and rebounds. When you get guys around the net, it will pay off."

Actually, the Lightning finished with 25 shots — two off their average through Games 1-4.

Not the worst

The Lightning have outscored the Penguins, 13-3, in their two victories this series. That's the Penguins' highest combined margin of defeat in their first two losses of a series since dropping Games 1 and 2 of a 1982 preliminary round to the New York Islanders by a combined 15-3 tally.

Game 1 of that 1982 series represented the Penguins' worst margin for defeat in playoff history, as the Islanders won, 8-1, at Nassau Coliseum.

The Penguins' margin for defeat yesterday was their worst at home in the postseason. They had lost by five goals at home three times: 5-0 to the Devils in 2001, 7-2 to the Capitals in 1992 and 8-3 to the Bruins in 1980.

Locals lead Team USA

Former Pittsburgh Hornets prospects J.T. Miller and John Gibson have helped Team USA land a spot in the World Under-18 championship game against Sweden in Germany.

Miller, a forward, scored and recorded two assists in a 5-4 win over Team Canada. Gibson, a goaltender, stopped 38 of 42 shots.

Miller (Moon) and Gibson (Whitehall) are projected to be selected at the 2011 NHL entry draft in Minnesota in June, along with forwards Vince Trocheck (Pittsburgh) and Brandon Saad (Gibsonia).

Around the boards

The 209th consecutive home sellout was also the largest to watch an NHL game at Consol Energy Center, with 18,535 filling the first-year arena. ... In addition to winning its first Game 5 on the road, the Lightning forced a Game 6 when trailing in a best-of-seven series for the first time in franchise history.

Photo Galleries

Pens vs. Lightning Game 6 4/23/2011

Pens vs. Lightning Game 6 4/23/2011

The Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 8-2 at the Consol Energy Center, Saturday, April 23, 2011.

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