NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
hadn’t seen game action since Oct. 13 against Toronto, an eight-day stretch.
won three straight games for Pittsburgh and head coach Dan Bylsma was riding Johnson’s momentum in net. During that period, Fleury had to stay sharp and wait patiently until he got to play another game between the pipes.
That opportunity came Thursday night in Nashville, and Fleury made the most of that opportunity. The 25-year-old netminder turned aside 21 shots as the Penguins defeated the Predators, 4-3, in overtime.
“It felt good to make some saves,” Fleury said. “I made some key saves in the game and that’s a good feeling. It’s a good feeling to get the win.”
“It was great to come up big for ‘Flower,’” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We played very well and got the win for him.”
Fleury had to overcome a shaky start as David Legwand scored a goal for Nashville just 53 seconds after the opening faceoff. However, Fleury couldn’t be blamed for allowing the goal.
“There was a breakdown in the defensive zone and a tough first save for Fleury to make,” Bylsma said. “I actually felt like that with that going in, he was going to respond and play well.”
“It was a tough way to start the game,” Fleury said. “It was easy to say, ‘not again.’ I tried to focus on forgetting it and making the next save.”
Fleury’s confidence wasn’t shaken. He shrugged off the goal and really found his groove.
Some of Fleury’s highlights were:
Breakaway save on J.P. Dumont.
Breakaway save on Steve Sullivan
Point-blank save on Jerred Smithson.
Big glove save on Joel Ward.
Most importantly, Fleury showed great mental toughness throughout the game, was positionally sound, aggressive with his angles and looked confident in his saves.
“We certainly didn’t make it easy on him,” captain Sidney Crosby
said. “He came up with some big saves and we were able to get him the win.”
“It’s been rough, but my teammates came back,” he said. “It was a great feeling to see (Kris) Letang’s goal. (Pascal) Dupuis saved me. So that was great.”
This was the type of game Fleury needed to get back to his former self.
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