Leading 3-2 with less than 30 seconds remaining in Game 4 on Wednesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Fleury left the net with a puck careening around the end boards. The puck hopped over Fleury's stick, which led to him scrambling to stop a shot from Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky that tied the game 3-3. Nick Foligno scored a long-distance goal 2:45 into overtime to give Columbus the win and tie the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series 2-2.
Dubinsky's late goal left Fleury face down in his crease.
Looking back on the play, Fleury said he should have remained in net, an opinion shared by Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. But at the time he thought he could make a play that would help clear the puck from Pittsburgh's zone and seal a victory.
"I think it's easy after, when you watch the video in slow motion. It's the wrong play when the puck goes in the net," Fleury said. "But as it happened, the puck was coming slow. I read I could stop it and it might be good to pick it up and get the puck out of the zone pretty quick. So that's why I went. The puck took a bad bounce and that's it."
Fleury made 42 saves against Columbus and Bylsma named him Pittsburgh's best player in Game 4. Fleury said he understands the criticism he's received, particularly concerning the tying goal.
"I don't think there is a strict rule [on when to play the puck]," Fleury said. "There is different glass around different rinks. It's different and the boards are different, but the dump was pretty soft, the puck was coming pretty slow. Usually the puck kind of dies down, and I don't know why but it took a funny bounce and it wasn't funny at all."
The 29-year-old has struggled in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in recent years and realizes he is under pressure to answer the same questions he has battled in the five seasons since winning the Cup in 2009. But he said he's excited to return to the Consol Energy Center crease for Game 5 on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).
"It's fun hockey. It's fast-paced, it's intense," Fleury said. "I'm looking forward to getting in there at home in front of our fans. It should be pretty exciting. I've been around for a while and the people have been nice.
"I try my best out there to win games and that's all that matters."
The Penguins failed to score after the first period Wednesday, which allowed the Blue Jackets to chip away at an early 3-0 lead. Pittsburgh played a strong defensive game in the second half of the third period, and Fleury said he was pleased with the support he received.
He added he would like the Penguins to return to their customary free-flowing style of play Saturday.
"The guys played well. They shut them down," Fleury said. "They tightened up and really gave us a chance to win at the end there. We're a pretty fast-paced team. We don't just want to sit back and wait for them. We have a lot of talent, a lot of speed, and that's how we won most of our games this year, going at them and chasing them.
"If we're up, if we're down, I think we have to keep pressuring them and going at them."
Before the final 30 seconds of Game 4, Fleury seemingly silenced his critics with his best postseason play in several years. He will need to return to form to keep Pittsburgh from falling behind 3-2 with the series shifting back to Columbus for Game 6 on Monday.
Fleury said he'll be ready.
"I talk with my goalie coach and my goalie partner. I watch the tapes and see what went good and what went wrong," he said. "[I] get up the next morning and try to have a smile on my face. Come to the room and try to have some fun and be ready for the next one."