-- Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury
and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins wouldn't mind seeing history repeating itself in Saturday's Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS).
At the same juncture of last spring's Stanley Cup Final, against these same Detroit Red Wings, Fleury turned in a brilliant 55-save performance that paved the was for Pittsburgh's season-saving 4-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena.
"To get that win in such a long game -- very tiring -- I think that is one of my great souvenirs in hockey," Fleury said after Saturday morning's skate.
This time around, though, the Penguins are not facing elimination. Thanks to back-to-back 4-2 wins at Mellon Arena, this best-of-7 series is all square after four games. Saturday night's winner of Game 5 will certainly be in control, forcing the loser to win two-straight games.
So, Fleury says that Pittsburgh must treat Saturday night's game as an elimination affair, just as the players did Game 5 of last year's Final.
"Tonight is a big game for us," Fleury said. "If we could get a lead in the series, that would be huge for us."
In Game 5 of the 2008 Final, Max Talbot scored with 35 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and put Detroit's victory celebration on hold. Petr Sykora, who is now a healthy scratch for the Penguins, scored the game-winner at the 9:57 mark of the third overtime. Fleury made 24 saves through the three overtimes.
Many of the Pittsburgh players still have crystal clear memories of that Game 5, despite the pain of being eliminated in the next game before their own fans at Mellon Arena. Defenseman Hal Gill broke into a wry smile when asked about his recollections of that night.
"(Fleury) bailed me out a lot," Gill said. "I had plenty of opportunities to be a goat in that game. I think most of our 'D' had the same opportunities (to be goats). He was great.
"That was a lot of fun, that game. I think when you are in a game like that, you tend to relax and play and you know what is going happen is going to happen and you just play and I think that is what he did. He saw a puck, he stopped it. It was pretty amazing."
Defenseman Rob Scuderi was even more direct.
"He was the only reason we stayed in the game," Scuderi said. "He made some huge stops. During the course of 55 shots, sometimes you forget how many great quality chances they had and he was unbelievable the entire time."
Fleury's performance is the foundation for the unwavering faith the Penguins have in their goalie today. Despite his critics outside the room, every Penguin knows he is capable of the greatness he showed last season during Game 5 at a hostile Joe Louis Arena.
"We know he is going to be there for us," Scuderi said Thursday night after game 4. "He's been there all year for us and we have complete faith in 'Flower' that he is going to bring his A game and, hopefully, so will the team
What if Fleury's A game means overtime again? So be it, says the easy-going goalie.
"(Overtime) is always a little bit stressful," he said, adding a laugh. "It's pretty intense. You give up a goal and it is over. It's pretty interesting."
Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Managing Editor