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Stanley Cup Final

Marc-Andre Fleury savoring another playoff run with Penguins

Goalie focused on winning second straight Cup, not future in Pittsburgh

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had to share his interview space with forward Carter Rowney at 2017 Stanley Cup Final Media Day. Goalie Matt Murray had a podium all to himself.

It's a minor thing, who is assigned to sit where and with whom, if anybody, at media day, but in this case it was symbolic.

 

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Fleury, the longest tenured member of the Penguins, having been with them sine 2003, the goalie who got them through the first two rounds and a win in the Eastern Conference Final this year, is now a backup to Murray again and possibly entering his last Stanley Cup Playoff series with the team.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators is at PPG Paints Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports).

"I try not to [think about it]," Fleury, 32, said Sunday with Rowney by his side. "I try to live day by day, go with that."

The Penguins can't protect both Murray and Fleury in the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft which will provide the Vegas Golden Knights with their players. The other 30 NHL teams must submit their list of protected players by 5 p.m. ET June 17. Vegas will submit its selections by 5 p.m. ET June 20, and the announcement of the selections will be made June 21.

Murray is the obvious keeper as the 23-year-old who could potentially be a two-time Stanley Cup champion when the Stanley Cup Final is over. If left exposed, Murray might be the first player taken by Vegas general manager George McPhee.

Video: Fleury on his career with Pens, goaltending style

That won't happen, which leaves Fleury in the vulnerable position of being traded if he refuses to waive his no-movement clause to be exposed to the Golden Knights. He might even be traded if he does waive it because the Penguins wouldn't want to lose him for nothing.

"We'll see at the end of the season," Fleury said.

You can understand why Fleury doesn't want to go into detail about this now. Not only is now not the time think selfishly, Fleury doesn't want his time in Pittsburgh to end.

Not only is he beloved by his teammates and the fans here, but the Penguins are all he knows. He was selected by the Pittsburgh with the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NHL Draft and has played 691 regular-season games with them and won the Stanley Cup twice, including in 2009 as the No. 1 goalie.

He was on his way to helping the Penguins get back to the Cup Final this year.

Fleury was the surprise starter in Game 1 of the first round against the Columbus Blue Jackets because Murray, the expected starter, was injured in warmups.

Fleury carried the Penguins to a five-game series win against Columbus and helped get them through a brutal seven-game series against the Washington Capitals, including a 29-save shutout in Game 7.

He started the conference final against the Ottawa Senators by allowing two goals on 58 shots in the first two games. He had a 23-save shutout in Game 2. He was 9-5 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .931 save percentage entering Game 3.

But then Fleury allowed four goals on nine shots before 13 minutes past in the first period of Game 3. Murray came in. He hasn't left. All he's done is win three of four starts with a 1.35 GAA and .946 save percentage.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm2: Fleury robs Turris through traffic

"I was having a lot of fun, winning some games," Fleury said. "It's a coach's decision and I've got to respect that."

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan rationalized his decision to start Murray in Game 4 against the Senators by saying the young goalie was fresh. That left open the possible conclusion that Sullivan was inadvertently suggesting he felt Fleury was not fresh, that he was tired.

Sullivan tried to clear that up Sunday.

"The silver lining in an injury process is that players have an opportunity to rest [during a time] that's very difficult and demanding physically," Sullivan said. "As much as we don't like to see our players go down with injuries, when they do come back, in some way they have some advantage because they have been rested. They have the opportunity to jump into our lineup, regardless of what the position is, and potentially make an impact."

Fleury bristled at the notion that he might have been tired.

"Do you [think that]?" he said. "It's playoffs. Everybody gets tired once in a while. I saw other guys get pulled, even pulled twice in one game and came back the next night. But that's fine. That was his decision, I've got to respect it, stand by my teammates and try to get another win."

And so that is what Fleury has been doing since 12:52 of the first period in Game 3 against the Senators.

"Those are memories I will always keep, the support from the fans and the atmosphere in the building, the fun I had winning those games," Fleury said. "But another championship will be even better."

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