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Fleury stands tall for Penguins in Game 5 win

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DETROIT (AP) -Marc-Andre Fleury leaned back against the locker room wall, his hat on backward, still wearing his pads and skates.

Teammates, already showered and ready to leave, filed past, giving him high-fives along the way.

Fleury deserved to take a breather, considering he just turned aside 55 shots and almost single-handedly staved off elimination for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"It's pretty tiring, what can I say?" Fleury said.

"I still think you win as a team, you lose as a team. I just tried to do my job."

Thanks to the goalie's Herculean effort Monday night, the Detroit Red Wings' planned Stanley Cup celebration was put on ice for at least a couple more days.

The young netminder has been outshined by his veteran counterpart, Chris Osgood, for much of the series, but it was the former overall No. 1 pick who stole the spotlight in the Penguins' 4-3 triple-overtime win in Game 5.

"That's going to be huge for him," Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said. "He was outstanding tonight. He was outstanding in overtime, and both goalies obviously played really well.

"But no doubt Fleury, probably his most important win in his career."

Apparently the Penguins goalie and his youthful teammates didn't get the memo about Detroit's plan to celebrate another Cup for the Red Wings.

One game from elimination and playing at Joe Louis Arena - the site of a combined 7-0 whitewash in Games 1 and 2 - Fleury and Co. did what few outside of western Pennsylvania thought possible.

The series shifts to Mellon Arena on Wednesday for Game 6. Two more wins by the Pens, and they will have made history in more than one way, becoming the first team in 66 years to win a Cup after trailing 3-1 in the finals.

Yep, 66, as in the number Mario Lemieux famously wore while leading Pittsburgh to Cup wins in 1991 and 1992. Now one of the team's principal owners, Lemieux celebrated the win amid hoots and hollers in a box high above the ice. Later, a smiling Lemieux accepted congratulations before walking into the night air.

When Petr Sykora's game-winner hit the back of the net, Fleury threw up his arms and rushed to the blue line where he was mobbed by his teammates.

One of Fleury's best saves came with about 3 minutes left in the second period when his kick save denied Mikael Samuelsson at the end of a 2-on-1 rush.

"I just tried to get something over there," Fleury said. "I got my toe and made the save."

He even had a little bit of luck on his side when Pavel Datsyuk's point-blank try pinged off the crossbar 2 minutes into the third. Three minutes later, Fleury snagged another shot by Samuelsson - this one a hard wrister heading toward the net.

But it wasn't enough with Datsyuk and Brian Rafalski scoring later in the third.

Maxime Talbot's score with 35 seconds remaining in regulation - and with Fleury out for an extra attacker - sent the game into extra time. Talbot was Fleury's replacement on the ice.

Therrien said the decision to send Talbot out with Fleury approaching the bench was "a feeling."

"Coaches get feelings sometimes. It's rare - it doesn't work all the time, but I love Talbot's game," the coach said.

In all three overtimes, Fleury was impenetrable, stopping Johan Franzen from in front of the net early in the first overtime and kicking away a quick, low shot by Datsyuk a minute later.

He had all the angles covered and seemed unfazed by the pressure, making save after save to keep his team in it.

"The big answer for us was Marc-Andre Fleury. I mean, he was the difference," said captain Sidney Crosby, who had two assists. "He held us in there, allowed us to keep battling and holding on. So a big part of that win goes to him. He kept us in the game."

The Wings finished with a 58-32 shot advantage.

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