ATLANTA – Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
is known for his beaming smile. The wide grin on the 25-year-old netminder has become as much a part of his persona as his reflexes between the pipes.
Through the early part of the season, Fleury didn’t have much to smile about. But in just two nights, all that has changed.
Fleury has come through with two wins on back-to-back nights after making 31 saves against Atlanta Saturday night in a 4-2 Penguins’ victory. He made 15 saves the night before to net a win against a gifted Tampa Bay squad.
“It feels good definitely,” Fleury said. “It’s only two games. I want to keep going, keep rolling. Hopefully, it keeps going for the next one.”
“With each win it should get easier and easier,” captain Sidney Crosby
said. “It’s nice for him and for the team to get a couple solid outings. We want to keep building.”
Fleury surrendered a goal just 2:41 into the first period on Brent Sopel’s shot from the point. But after that, the seventh-youngest goalie to get 150 career wins made two spectacular saves to keep the game close.
The most impressive being a sliding, split save on a chance by Dustin Byfuglien in the slot. Byfuglien was all alone when he received a cross-crease pass, but Fleury denied him with his left pad.
Fleury also stoned Andrew Ladd, who made a good move in open ice to get one-on-one with the Penguins goalie. Ladd tried to slide the puck through Fleury’s five-hole. Fleury waited patiently and closed his pads to make the save.
“It was hard to give up that early goal and give them the lead early in the game,” Fleury said. “I felt good though making those saves after. It’s what I had to do to keep the score 1-0.”
Fleury was also good in the third period when the Thrashers attacked the net relentlessly, registering 14 shots in the frame.
“The last two games he’s looked a lot like Fleury,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He was extremely good early in the game for us. He made a couple real big saves when they had a couple great chances. Coming back after last night’s game and playing the way he did, I thought we’d get a great game from Marc.”
The Penguins didn’t just get a great game from Fleury. They always got to see that patented ear-to-ear grin.