The snow may be starting to fall, but the ‘Flower’ is blooming.
put together another spectacular performance Friday afternoon, turning away a season-high 43 shots as the Penguins beat Ottawa 2-1.
The Senators threw everything they had at Fleury, but he was simply on fire.
“They came pretty hard at us,” Fleury said. “That’s what we expected from them. I think they threw a lot of pucks from everywhere.”
Fleury received a loud cheer at the beginning of the game when he was announced as the starter, but the crowd roared for the netminder 12 minutes into the first period.
After a flurry of chances in the crease, the puck found Ottawa’s Chris Kelly, who had an open net and ample space to shoot. He snapped a wrist shot at the cage, but Fleury slid across the blue paint and caught it in his glove as he spun around on his back.
The crowd shouted “Fleury! Fleury!” – a chant that is becoming quite frequent inside CONSOL Energy Center.
“I’m going to remember that one for a little bit,” Fleury said. “I just saw him out of the corner of my eye, and he was by himself on the side of the net. I knew he had some time to shoot, so I tried to slide across. It worked out alright.”
Fleury started the season 1-6 in his first seven starts. But he’s at the top of his game once again. Fleury is 7-0-1 in his last eight games with a 1.71 goals-against average and .941 save percentage.
“Physically, I don’t feel different (from the beginning of the season),” he said. “I still feel the same way that I did. But I’m just a little more relaxed and confident.”
The goaltender was quick to give credit to the rest of the team.
“The team is doing well, we’re winning games and the guys are helping me out,” he said. “I think the team has been better in front of me, not giving up as many odd-man rushes and not as many hard scoring chances.”
“Flower is playing well,” Paul Martin
said. “He has that edge and he’s playing with it. It’s always fun to see that’s he’s having fun and enjoying the game. We need that and he’s providing it.”
That edge was apparent in the third period, when a scrum in the crease resulted in a little pushing and shoving between Fleury and noted troublemaker Chris Neil.
“When our defense was beside them, they would just fall on me and give me some sticks in the back or the back of the head.,” Fleury said. “It was the second time in the third, so I just thought it was enough.”Paul Martin
said it’s tough for anyone to beat the Penguins when Fleury is performing this well.
“When he’s playing the way he’s playing, he’s as good as anyone in the league,” he said.