The Fleury FactorMarc-Andre Fleury
did everything possible to deny the Calgary Flames a point in Wednesday night’s game and in the process he earned his fourth shutout of the season.
“I just try to go for the puck and stop it,” Fleury said. “I felt good, and pretty relaxed. I have two posts on my side and as always, the guys did a good job.”
Fleury made save after save after save to frustrate the Flames’ third-ranked offense. In fact, he turned aside 31 shots in the contest. Through each period of the game, he gave the Mellon Arena crowd numerous reasons to chant, “Fleury! Fleury! Fleury!” - which they did with gusto.
Fleury’s performance was crucial because Calgary’s top-notch netminder, Miikka Kiprusoff, allowed only two goals.
I just try to go for the puck and stop it. I felt good, and pretty relaxed. I have two posts on my side and as always, the guys did a good job. - Marc-Andre Fleury
“We knew they had a good team, and their goalie is also really good,” Fleury said. “We got that first goal. It was good we got ahead in the game. It was a little bit tight.”
Tight describes the game pretty well, considering the Flames outshot the Penguins in the first two periods, 12-9, and, 10-8. However, Fleury was in position throughout the game to smother the Flames.
“He played very well tonight,” interim head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He was solid. He made some big saves but the guys played very hard in front of him. We battled around him and we limited their scoring chances mostly to the outside. He did have to make a couple of saves that were big saves. It was a great job by our goaltender, and it was a great job by our defense as well.”Two for No. 2
Hal Gill, who wears No. 2, netted his second goal of the season with the Penguins’ second goal against the Flames.
Gill was in the neutral zone to receive a pass from Rob Scuderi, who poke-checked the puck away from Calgary’s Mike Cammalleri. Gill dished the puck to Evgeni Malkin
who carried it into the Flames zone and then left a drop-pass for Gill. Gill lifted a shot into the upper-left shelf for the point.
“It was kind of a bouncing puck and I think Rob Scuderi made a great play and poked it and I was able to turn it back up and get it to Malkin,” Gill said. “I was just trying to follow up the play.”
As for Gill’s shot which eluded Kiprusof:
“I was just trying to get it on net,” Gill admitted. “I tried to go around the defender. He kind of locked up his legs and I tried to get around the left side there and curved a little bit. Maybe it helped me out.”
The Penguins defense has certainly done its part to create offensive opportunities since implementing coach Bylsma’s system.
“I always get scared when Gill is up that far on the ice,” Bylsma said. “But with the way we want to play, if we can attack wide with speed and we can push their defense back, we do want our defense to move up whether you are Sergei Gonchar or Hal Gill. It was a good read, a good situation and it was a good one-time shot there past the goalie.”Leaving the Empty Net Empty
The Flames opted to pull Kiprusoff and bring on an extra attacker in the final minute of the game. The Penguins took control of the puck, but despite their best efforts, couldn’t manage to put the puck in the empty net.
With Cooke and Crosby and Malkin all missing partially the open net, it’s good to laugh about now. When you miss an empty-net like that, you hope that it doesn’t come back to bite you, but after the game it was good fodder for laughter for the guys. - Dan Bylsma
Fleury, who has attempted to score a goal several times in his career, started the empty-net shoot off by flicking the puck down the ice but Malkin knocked the puck down. Then Matt Cooke
had an opportunity but his shot when wide of the net.
“(My shot) was kind of slow and I was just looking for an assist,” Fleury said. “Cookie missed the net and I was like, no. I’m going to try (to score a goal), that’s for sure. I’m going to keep shooting the pucks.”
Cooke wasn’t the only one to miss the empty-net though. Both Sidney Crosby
and Malkin hit the post on their empty-net attempts.
“With Cooke and Crosby and Malkin all missing partially the open net, it’s good to laugh about now,” Bylsma said. “When you miss an empty-net like that, you hope that it doesn’t come back to bite you, but after the game it was good fodder for laughter for the guys.”
“I think tomorrow we will have a little discussion about how to put the puck in the net with no goalies I guess,” Fleury joked.Hitmen
The Flames are notorious for playing a very physical brand of hockey. The Penguins responded to this reputation by out-hitting the Flames, 44-25. Orpik tallied 10 of those hits himself. Coming out with a strong physical game was key in the Penguins’ win.
“I think we expected the game to be physical going in, that’s part of Calgary’s identity,” Bylsma said. “We didn’t talk about trying to out-hit them or out-match them but we knew that was going to be a factor here in the game.
“I thought our guys responded both in taking the hits and making plays, but also handing them out and playing physical as well. It’s great to see our team stand up to a team in which that is their strength and that’s what they are trying to do. That was a really big part of our game and it was really good to see from our team tonight.”