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Notebook: Fleury Bounces Back

by Caitlin Kasunich / Pittsburgh Penguins
Marc-Andre Fleury has gained a reputation for bouncing back strong after a less than stellar performance. After going 0-1-1 at Montreal and Washington this weekend, he made 37 saves in a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders.

“It was a good feeling,” Fleury said. “It was a little bit of a rough weekend in Montreal and Washington, so it was nice to be home in front of our friends.”

Fleury made 12 saves against the Islanders in the first period and 12 more in the second, including a potentially devastating wrist shot from New York’s Kyle Okposo, which he swiftly caught in his left glove. He also made 14 saves in the third period to seal off the Penguins’ win.

Head coach Dan Bylsma noted how Fleury’s aggressive play at the top of the crease especially allowed him to keep shots out of the net throughout the game.

“He didn’t have to make too many spectacular saves,” he said. “We did a better job at keeping the opportunities he had come from the outside the majority of the time. It came from longer shots. I thought he was very good with rebound control, as well. Some of those shots came up high, and he has been able to control those rebounds, which is the key to limiting second opportunities.”

“He was solid, and that’s what you need from your goaltender,” Sidney Crosby said. “Hopefully, we don’t make life too difficult on him, but he’s there to make those important saves and the saves he needs to, and he did that for us tonight.”

Penguins Shift Momentum after Killing the Islanders’ Two-Man Advantage
The Penguins created a momentum shift after killing off two straight power plays in the second period with Brooks Orpik and Jordan Staal both in the penalty box, two of Pittsburgh’s best penalty killers. Ten seconds after the kill ended, the Penguins took the lead on a Chris Kunitz goal.

“That was huge,” Fleury said. “It was a big kill. Right away we got a goal, so that was great.”

Kunitz received the pass from Evgeni Malkin in the near circle before sending a wrist shot past the Islanders’ Dwayne Roloson to score his seventh goal of the season and first of the game at 9:27 in the period.

Later on in the period, Malkin continued the scoring trend by tapping the puck past Roloson at the right side of the crease after Sergei Gonchar fired the puck to the net from the right point. The goal was Malkin’s 21st of the season and second point of the game.

That was a huge turning point in the game. We had some good saves and a great five-on-three. We had guys sacrificing their bodies. They don’t always get rewarded for getting their bodies in front of it so it’s nice that we could turn the momentum. - Chris Kunitz
“That was a huge turning point in the game,” Kunitz said. “We had some good saves and a great five-on-three. We had guys sacrificing their bodies. They don’t always get rewarded for getting their bodies in front of it so it’s nice that we could turn the momentum. It was nice that our goaltender was awesome tonight. Our penalty kill was awesome.”

Crosby also credited the Penguins’ penalty-killing unit for changing the momentum of the game.

“We didn’t have a lot of power-play opportunities tonight, so our penalty kill stepped up and got that big kill there,” he said. “We came back and scored a big goal. That’s what you’re going to see a lot of. It is tight hockey, and those are going to be little details. Special teams are going to become bigger and bigger.”

Letang Matches Up Against Tavares
After matching up against Alexander Ovechkin in last Sunday’s game against the Washington Capitals, Kris Letang faced off against another top player in the National Hockey League during Wednesday’s game – the Islanders 19-year-old rookie John Tavares.

“He’s obviously a good player, so we have to take his time and space away,” Letang said. “He’s a good shooter, so we made sure that he didn’t get the puck.”

Besides ensuring that Tavares did not get any shots on goal throughout the game, Letang made a big save during the first period. The defenseman dove from right to left in front of the Penguins’ crease to use his stick to stop a backhander from the Islanders Matt Moulson.

“It was just desperate play,” he said. “I saw the puck rolling off Orpik’s back, and I just dove to save Flower.”

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