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Fleury remained supportive during Penguins' Cup run

Veteran goalie happy about winning second championship while serving as spectator

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- The 2009 Stanley Cup Final ended with Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury sliding to his right to make a desperation, championship-clinching save on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. 

The ending to the 2016 Cup Final was a different experience for Fleury when he watched from the bench while the Penguins finished off the San Jose Sharks on Sunday with a 3-1 victory in Game 6 with rookie Matt Murray in net. Fleury was more nervous this time around. 

"When you play, you're just in the game," he said. "You kind of forget about it. So, it's a little different, but it's still exciting."

Fleury, 31, is one of five active players remaining from the Penguins' 2009 Cup team along with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Chris Kunitz, and enjoyed sharing this moment with them and the rest of his teammates. But it would be understandable if Fleury was thinking it should have been him on the ice for those final, exciting seconds. 

Video: PIT@SJS, Gm6: Fleury talks about winning second Cup

He was having a strong 2015-16 season, going 35-17-6 with a 2.29 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and five shutouts before he sustained a concussion in a 5-2 victory against the Nashville Predators on March 31. Murray, 22, took over the Penguins starting job in his absence and continued to play after Fleury was cleared medically to return May 2. 

Fleury didn't make a postseason appearance until he relieved Murray to begin the third period of a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final on May 20. After Fleury stopped all seven shots he faced that night, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan decided to start him in Game 5 two days later. 

But Fleury was understandably rusty after his long layoff and allowed four goals on 24 shots in a 4-3 overtime loss. Sullivan turned back to Murray after that, leaving Fleury as a spectator for the remainder of the Penguins' Stanley Cup run. 

Through it all, he never complained and was never anything other than a supportive teammate. 

"Nobody wants to get hurt, right?" Fleury said. "We all want to play. We all want to be part of it, part of the team and stuff. It's a situation that it is what it is and it's fine. If the team wins, that's what matters." 

That the rest of the Penguins didn't forget Fleury's role in this championship was evident Sunday when he was the fourth player to receive the Stanley Cup following Crosby, injured defenseman Trevor Daley and forward Pascal Dupuis, who had to stop playing earlier this season because of blood clots. 

The moment was still a special one for Fleury. 

"It always is," he said. "You don't have many chances at it in your career. I found that out since our last Cup in '09. I'm happy for the city, happy for my teammates and the organization. I'll enjoy it with the family." 

What happens next for Fleury is unclear. He has three seasons left on his contract, but, with Murray now a Stanley Cup hero and an expansion draft potentially coming at the end of next season, it would appear he may not finish his contract in Pittsburgh.

Fleury said he has "not yet" thought about what his future is with the Penguins. 

"We'll wait and see what happens," he said.

Video: The crew discusses what's next for Marc-Andre Fleury

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