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Fleury good enough to keep Pens' season alive

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Fleury good enough to keep Pens' season alive
Marc-Andre Fleury did not allow a goal on 14 shots after the first period. He finished with 22 saves against 25 shots as the Penguins pushed the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 Friday.

PHILADELPHIA -- His teammates were quick to come to his defense. His coach refused to throw him under the bus. Marc-Andre Fleury's family and close friends were all by his side, too.

Nobody in Fleury's inside circle, inside his world, was blaming him for the 0-3 hole Pittsburgh was in heading into Game 4 Wednesday.

Marc-Andre Fleury
Marc-Andre Fleury
Goalie - PIT
RECORD: 1-3-0
GAA: 5.43 | SVP: 0.817
Not his fault, they were saying. We didn't help him out, was the common thread coming out of the Penguins dressing room. Don't point the finger at him, defenseman Brooks Orpik so clearly stated Wednesday morning.

Fleury heard it all.

"Everybody has been great," the All-Star goalie was saying with a smile on his face following the Penguins' 10-3 win to keep their season alive. "I think we have a close team, good chemistry. We've been around for a while together so it's nice to hear that your teammates have your back."

And Fleury finally had theirs Wednesday in the orange-and-black cauldron that is Wells Fargo Center.

He yielded a power-play goal to Claude Giroux just 1:14 into the game and then back-to-back power-play goals to Kimmo Timonen and Jakub Voracek later in the first period, but (and this is a big but for Fleury) he steadied himself and found a groove as the goalies in the other net fumbled their way to a blowout loss.

Fleury did not allow a goal on 14 shots after the first period. He finished with 22 saves against 25 shots as the Penguins pushed the series back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

After giving up 17 goals on 84 shots through the first three games -- including 13 goals on 58 shots in the last two -- Fleury made a bit of a statement Wednesday.

Was he perfect? No, far from it. He was beaten twice through his five-hole.

But was he good enough? Oh, yes he was.

"He stuck with it and he did end up getting tested there a few times and made some good saves," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "That's really good for him. We all have confidence in him, but I think for him it's good to get a couple of periods there where he feels good and he made some big saves.

"They're going to keep coming. We know that, so he's going to get tested again."

Fleury expects the Penguins to keep coming, even harder in Game 5 actually. Orpik, though, said as long as the Penguins play as well in front of him as they did in Game 4, Fleury should be just fine.

"He's been unfairly criticized here," Orpik said. "From top to bottom, we just weren't good for the first three games. He's the easiest target because he plays in goal. If we played well in front of him it gives him a chance to play well, and vice versa. We did a lot better in front of him and hopefully that adds to his confidence moving forward here."

"He's been unfairly criticized here. From top to bottom, we just weren't good for the first three games. He's the easiest target because he plays in goal. If we played well in front of him it gives him a chance to play well, and vice versa. We did a lot better in front of him and hopefully that adds to his confidence moving forward here."
-- Brooks Orpik

Fleury is confident. There is no doubt about that.

He said all he thought about heading into Game 4 was "put it behind me and get calm and relaxed."

After giving up the Giroux goal just 74 seconds into the game, he said to himself, "Relax, it's a long game."

When the Flyers scored the back-to-back power-play goals later in the period, the first on a 5-on-3 and the second on a 5-on-4, Fleury thought, "I was confident we could come back in the game."

They did, in quite a spectacular way. The Penguins scored eight unanswered goals in a span of 27:35.

Fleury didn't give any of them back to Philadelphia.

"He was sharp and aggressive," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He was part of the win."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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