may have entertained the Mellon Arena crowd when he donned a Steelers helmet and swung a “Terrible Towel” after the Penguins game against the Rangers, but it was his performance in Pittsburgh’s 3-0 victory that had the audience chanting his name.
Fleury turned aside 33 shots in the game, including 26 in the final two periods, to earn his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career.
“I thought the guys did a great job in not giving them too many scoring chances,” Fleury said. “We got some turnovers, good chances and we got some goals early, so that was a big game for us.”
“Flower played great,” Sidney Crosby
said. “We didn’t give up a ton of scoring chances but when we did he was there and shut the door.”
Fleury was the difference in the game. He played aggressive in his crease and challenged shooters. Fleury’s reflexes were on display with a couple of sliding saves on lateral moves. Also, his technique - positioning, squaring his body and lateral movement - was solid.
“He played well,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “There were a few breakdowns but I liked the way that he focused. I like the way he squared to the puck. He didn’t have to make the spectacular save but that’s a great sign because he was in good position. And if you want to win in this league you need good goaltending and he did a great job again today.”
Fleury helped the Penguins earn back-to-back wins for the first time since mid-November and Pittsburgh climbed back into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s good, especially at home,” Fleury said. “We’ve been struggling at home for a while now, so it’s good to get a good game and get a win.”
Fleury tried almost everything to break the Penguins - and his own - recent struggles, including switching to a new glove and blocker.
“It’s newer,” Fleury said of the glove, which he utilized to make a number of saves. “My old one, I don’t know, it was pretty old. (The puck) just bounced (off of it).”
He played well. There were a few breakdowns but I liked the way that he focused. I like the way he squared (to) the puck. And if you want to win in this league you need good goaltending and he did a great job again today. - Michel Therrien on Fleury
The Penguins need Fleury to be the best player on the ice in every game. The former first-round pick (first overall in 2003) was busy in the game and saw a lot of rubber. But Fleury thinks its more difficult when he isn’t seeing a lot of shots.
“I find it tougher to stay focused because I’m by myself and not doing much back there,” Fleury said. “So I always think it’s harder mentally, but physically you don’t let through as much. You’re always fresh. When I get shots, I think that’s what’s good about it, I don’t have to think about stuff. I just try to make some saves and the game goes by faster.”
After the game, Fleury pleased the crowd when he wore a gold throw-back Steelers helmet and waved the “Terrible Towel” for his curtain call as the game’s No. 1 star. The Pittsburgh goalkeeper wore the apparel to show his support for the Steelers - who host the AFC Championship Game at 6:30 p.m.
“I had the blocker on so it was stuck in there but I gave it a shot though,” Fleury said of his towel-twirling skills.
Teammate Maxime Talbot helped Fleury put on the helmet, which was too small for his head.
“Little tight, Max had to punch it on my head,” Fleury said.
Pittsburgh has won three of its past four games. Now the Penguins will try to ride Fleury and their recent success into their game against the Carolina Hurricanes, their final opponent before the All-Star break.
“I think we’ve started to play better as a team and we’re giving less scoring chances and we can get more,” Fleury said. “I think the guys have been working hard and it’s paying off right now.”