PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made a mistake.
With less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation and the Penguins up 3-2 Wednesday, Fleury left his crease in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He attempted to retrieve a puck riding the boards behind the net, but it hopped over his stick and was passed to Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky.
Dubinsky hit the open net. Then 2:49 into overtime, forward Nick Foligno wristed a shot directly at Fleury. That one got through as well.
"He was our best player in the game last night and unfortunately a mistake with the bouncing puck there behind the net cost us in the last 30 seconds of the game," Bylsma said. "Typically, the rule of thumb is pucks on the glass, you stay in net. Pucks on the dasher, you have a truer read on the play. Given the time of the game, the puck gets rimmed in, the play is to stay in the net and not go out and attempt a play on the puck.
"This one was on the glass and Marc knows he should've stayed in the net. I think they would've touched it first anyway, but we should've stayed in the net."
Fleury made 25 saves during the second and third periods while the Penguins failed to extend their 3-0 lead established midway through the first period. But he became the focal point of their collapse after allowing two avoidable goals.
Bylsma offered a comparison between Fleury and goalie Tomas Vokoun, who has not played an NHL game this season due to a blood clot, in similar situations.
"Marc-Andre Fleury is an exceptional skating goaltender, so his ability to get out is very high. We've talked about reeling that in in terms of how many times and when he goes out," Bylsma said. "That's where it should've come into play at that time of the game when it's 6-on-5, when the goalie is pulled and it's under a minute-and-a-half. All those things go into that read.
"Marc's exceptional with being able to get out there with his skating ability. Tomas is a better reader of the situation, not as good of a skater as Marc."
Fleury's recent Stanley Cup Playoffs track record has been well-documented.
After winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, Fleury has gone 16-16 and has been eliminated in the first round twice. Following a shutout win in Game 1 of Pittsburgh’s first-round series against the New York Islanders last year, Fleury allowed 14 goals over the next three games before being replaced by Vokoun.
He returned to the net after Vokoun was pulled in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins, but allowed three goals on 17 shots. Pittsburgh went back to Vokoun for Game 3.
Bylsma said he is not concerned and expects Fleury to return as one of the Penguins' best players in Game 5 at Consol Energy Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT). The best-of-7 series is teid 2-2.
"I think that's one of the questions going into the playoffs," Bylsma said. "I think, after the start of Game 3 where two out of the first five shots, I think it was, went in the net, he had to answer those questions with his play the rest of the way and did.
"He was our best player in the game and he has to rebound now from [the loss], as does our team."