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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Flower bloomed Thursday night at Mellon Arena.

Marc-Andre Fleury began the 2006-07 season in style – with a 4-0 shutout win over cross-state rival Philadelphia.

“It’s great to just get a win,” Fleury said. “It’s awesome.”

Fleury, who earned his third-career shutout, tried to deflect attention away from his performance – even though it helped the Penguins capture the victory.

“It felt good to get a win,” he said. “I had a shutout and I think the main thing is that we got the win and I won’t worry about anything else.

“I got [a shutout] my first year and one my second year. I have one now, so maybe I can get some more this year.”

Fleury stopped 40 Flyers shots and made many acrobatic saves – including one in the second period where he slid across the crease with cat-like reflexes to stop what seemed to be a sure goal for Simon Gagne.

“It was last-second and hit off my skate,” Fleury said. “That was close. I am glad it didn’t go in.”

Thanks to 12 penalties, the Penguins were out shot, 40-21 – which ensured a busy night in net for Fleury.

“We don’t want to make Fleury work that hard every night,” Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. “It’s huge that he can come out and back us up when that does happen. When you get as many penalties as we did, it’s hard to keep the shots down.”

With a sold-out crowd cheering his name, Fleury felt energized.

“It was great crowd. It was awesome to just start with a win and it was great for them,” he said. “My defense helped me a lot, too. They cleared rebounds away and blocked shots for me.”

The win was a confidence boost for the 21-year-old goaltender, who got off to a slow start in training camp.

“That [performance] was huge,” Crosby said. “Everyone in this room believed in him. There’s probably people outside of it that were questioning him, but I think he responded very well. If there was any doubt, hopefully those doubters were put to rest. As a team we all have to go out there every night and prove ourselves.”

Fleury did just that Thursday.



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