Fleury steers Penguins to victory
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The teamwork that has made the Penguins so good without their stars over the past two seasons is nice.
Simply having the two best players on the ice also works.
On a night when the Penguins were outplayed, returning center Evgeni Malkin and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury were the best players on the ice in a 3-0 victory before 10,681 at Nassau Coliseum.
Fleury stopped 33 shots for this 20th career shutout.
"This was not our best effort," center Jordan Staal said. "Flower played so well. We wouldn't have won the game without him. He was unbelievable."
Fleury stopped a number of quality scoring opportunities against one of the league's most talented offensive teams.
And at times, he made it look easy.
"He was really good," said defenseman Brooks Orpik, whose pass sprung right wing Pascal Dupuis for the game's first goal on a breakaway in the first period. "He didn't have to move much to make the saves."
While Fleury didn't have to move much -- a sign that his positioning was impeccable -- Malkin was moving all over the ice. Although he did not register a point for the first time this season, Malkin put on a show at various stages of the game with his skating and playmaking.
Malkin showed few signs of rust. His balky knee did not show any signs of discomfort.
"As usual," Staal said. "Geno looked good coming back. Obviously, it's good to see. We're all pretty excited about what he's going to do."
|Malkin plays fourth game|
|Center Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup Tuesday, playing only his fourth game of the season.|
|Oct. 6 at Vancouver:||0||1||1|
|Oct. 8 at Calgary||1||0||1|
|Oct. 13 vs. Washington||0||2||2|
|Oct. 25 at N.Y. Islanders||0||0||0|
Richard Park gave the Penguins a 2-0 edge early in the second period, and Staal finished off the win with an empty-net goal for his sixth tally of the season.
The rest of the final two periods, however, belonged to Fleury.
He stoned center John Tavares and defenseman Mark Streit from the slot in the third period. His most spectacular sequence came in the first period, when he made three saves during a rapid-fire attack.
"I thought the Islanders played a good game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "Our goaltender had to be our best player. Marc-Andre was outstanding."
Fleury even overcame his bizarre habit of losing shutouts late in games.
"Oh my gosh," he said. "I know."
Fleury lost a shutout late against Montreal last week at Consol Energy Center. This time, he made sure he secured his first shutout of the season.
"You have to make the easy saves and the tough saves," Fleury said. "It's all part of being a goalie."
Malkin made nothing look easy, weaving through the Islanders with ease and setting up linemates James Neal and Steve Sullivan with a number of quality opportunities. His performance may have given a glimpse of what could be on the horizon for a season that started with so much promise for the center.
"He looked strong," Bylsma said. "He's a bull on the ice."
How they scored
• Penguins, 1-0 (17:06): RW Pascal Dupuis received a lead pass from D Brooks Orpik and fired a wrist shot past G Evgeni Nabokov's stick side for a breakaway goal.
• Penguins, 2-0 (0:21): C Richard Park finished off a strong shift by pouncing on an Islanders' turnover, skating into the slot and burying a wrist shot off Nabokov's left shoulder.
• Penguins, 3-0 (18:00): C Jordan Staal scored into an empty net from center ice.