Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
was in top form to help the Penguins best the Hurricanes, 3-2, in the opening game of the Eastern Conference Final.
“Fleury played unbelievable,” Jordan Staal
said. “He made some key saves at key times, especially there late in the game. Everyone is so confident in the way he plays and he’s a game changer.”
The Sorel, Quebec native made save after save with several highlight reel worthy stops, including a few breathtaking glove saves. He turned aside 23 shots to help his team to victory.
“Both goaltenders played really well,” Bylsma said. “Their guy was good and our guy was very good. He played well and made a couple of key saves for us at different times during in the game when Carolina was carrying the play or had good chances. At this time of year you need that from your goaltender and certainly Marc-Andre gave that to us.”
Things got a bit hairy for Pittsburgh toward the end of the third period after Joe Corvo scored a power-play goal to bring the Hurricanes within one-goal of the Penguins.
“We knew they were going to come hard, they never give up,” Philippe Boucher said. “Flower made a stick save at the end and he was the No. 1 player tonight.”
That stick save at the end of the game was a play Fleury made to keep an Eric Staal shot out of a seemingly empty cage near the end of the third period.
“I think Staal had the whole net, he probably didn’t have much on (his shot),” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “But it was probably indicative of the way Fleury had been playing all night.”
“It was a little bit lucky but I’ll take it,” Fleury admitted on the save.
Overall though, the Penguins were thrilled with the effort that Fleury presented in the game.
“He was big for us,” captain Sidney Crosby
said. “Throughout the game he came up with some big saves, especially late. That’s the difference in the game. That’s what you need to win in the playoffs. Goaltending is a big part of that and he provides that for us.”Satan the Man
Miroslav Satan came through with a clutch goal for the Penguins in their Game 1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Satan tallied the first goal of the game and his first of the postseason after vacating the penalty box. He collected the puck in the neutral zone and had a breakaway on the Carolina net. He faked a shot before beating Cam Ward on his backhand at 9:17 in the first period.
“At the blue line I didn’t know what I was going to do but when I was between the circles I already knew what I was going to do,” Satan said about his goal. “It’s fun. (A breakaway like that) doesn’t happen too often and you better enjoy that kind of a situation. I was just happy that we killed the penalty and I got on the ice and I got the opportunity to get a breakaway. I was pretty happy with that.”
Satan has tallied five points (1G-4A) so far this postseason, including three points in his last two games. The Penguins coaching staff have been pleased with his recent production.
“(With Satan) we can insert a guy who can take away the minutes and he can play on the special teams,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He is a better fit for the power play but he is also a guy you can count on to battle and you can count on him to be mentally ready. He is experienced, he has been in a lot of different situations. If he is not getting a ton of minutes he is still going to be mentally sharp like he was tonight. That’s a comfortable thing to be able to add.”Boucher Cashes In
Veteran defenseman Philippe Boucher netted the game-winning goal, his first playoff goal in five years, to help the Penguins defeat the Hurricanes.
“It was one of those where there was a lot of traffic going to the net,” Boucher explained. “If it doesn’t go in, you want it to stay around the net with guys going in and it worked out for me.
“It’s been a while. It feels good. That’s what you play for, you play for the playoffs and to be a part of it is an amazing feeling.”
Boucher netted the power-play goal by rifling a shot through Cam Ward’s five-hole from the slot. Boucher also earned an assist on Evgeni Malkin
’s goal in the first period and he finished the game with a plus-1 rating to earn No. 1 star of the game honors.
“Tonight Boucher didn’t get a lot of minutes but he cashed in when he did get a chance with a goal and an assist,” Bylsma said. “He proved that seven defensemen is an alright thing I guess.”
The entire Penguins’ roster was happy to see Boucher and Satan tally goals because both players were healthy scratches going into the playoffs, but have since earned a spot on the roster.
“I think everyone in our locker room is really, really happy for both of those guys,” Orpik said. “They are guys who, in that position, could easily have gone in the wrong direction and maybe lost focus or maybe even had a negative influence in the locker room but they have been the furthest thing from it. They have been supportive of everyone else and just waiting for an opportunity to get in. It’s a credit to them that they were as ready as they were then they were given an opportunity.”
“You have to fight your way back in the lineup,” Bylsma added. “(Boucher) is a guy who has a lot of experience. He is in a situation where we won a lot of hockey games with him out of the lineup (due to injury). As he got back to being healthy we were making a push to the playoffs with six defensemen but he is a capable guy. He is a guy who can play the power play, the penalty kill, he has a physical presence. You’re not adding a guy without experience. He stayed ready and worked hard.”
Bocuher dressed as the Penguins’ seventh defenseman. The club sometimes opts to play six blueliners, but has recently dressed seven. While the switch does alter the defensive pairings, it doesn’t throw off the defensemen.
“Throughout the season we’ve played with everyone and we know what to expect from each other,” Boucher said. “Some of the pairings are more set in stone. (Hal) Gill and (Rob) Scuderi are more set in stone. Everyone else plays with different guys but it’s fine. It’s part of it and it’s what we need to do now.”