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Fleury, Defense Strong In Victory

by Joe Sager / Pittsburgh Penguins

In a fast-paced game with a lot of offense, the Penguins have plenty of firepower to come out on top.

When a game is a defensive struggle, they’re pretty good, too. 

After rallying from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Rangers, 5-4, in Game 1 Friday night, the Penguins clamped down Sunday afternoon on New York for a 2-0 Game 2 triumph.

“It was a tight game and that’s to be expected in the playoffs and against that team,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “That really was a well-earned win.” 

It was a strong showing for Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He bounced back from Friday’s offensive barrage to turn aside all 26 shots he faced Sunday for his second playoff shutout.

“It feels good. As a goalie, it never feels good to give up four goals,” he said. “I was happy to come back and have a pretty good game. Also the players in front of me did a pretty good job.” 

Especially the Penguins penalty killers. They killed off all six of New York’s man advantages, including two in the second half of the third period.

“I was pretty confident. I think all game the guys did a great job,” Fleury said. “They came up big in the third to kill those two penalties at the end, blocking some shots and taking the rebounds away. That was big.” 

Penguins coach Michel Therrien was pleased with his penalty killers, who have allowed only one Rangers power-play goal in nine chances so far this series.

“Especially the last two times they were on the power play, the guys did a fantastic job,” he said. “Special teams are always a factor and we finished plus-1. When you finish on the plus side of special teams, you put yourself in a position to win.” 

The Penguins penalty killers have improved all season and are thriving in the playoffs. The team ranks second in the playoffs on the PK at 90.9 percent.

“I think as a team, everyone is doing their job well,” Fleury said. “We’ve been working on it and I think it’s starting to pay off a lot for us.” 

A team-first approach is what keys the Penguins’ success.

“A lot of it comes down to bounces sometimes,” Crosby said. “It’s details, though. We’re doing a good job of getting our sticks in lanes and blocking shots. Your goaltender has to be your best penalty killer and Marc has played well. I think it’s a combination of things and not one thing in particular.” 

Despite the 2-0 lead over the Rangers, the Penguins know the series is far from over.

“It’s going to get tougher from here on in and that’s what we expect,” Crosby said. “It was nice to get two big wins at home, but it doesn’t get any easier from here.”

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