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Fleury outduels Halak to put Habs on the brink

Pittsburgh Penguins Fleury makes big save against Montreal Canadiens in NHL Eastern Conference semi-final hockey series in Montreal.

Marc-Andre Fleury can sometimes drive Penguins fans bonkers with his inconsistency.

For all of the relatively soft goals that Fleury is known to give up from time to time, he just as often stands on his head and performs among the top goaltenders in the NHL.  As an example, for as bad as he looked in last season’s 5-0 blowout in Game Five of the Cup Finals against Detroit, he was that much better during Game Six and Seven’s 2-1 victories to hoist the Cup.

The latter was the case in Saturday night’s Game Five at the Igloo as Fleury stopped 32 of 33 Canadiens’ shots, propelling the Penguins to a 3-2 series lead.

Game Five was another case of the Penguins dominating play, especially on the physical end, where they were awarded 35 hits.  But early in the game that desire to make the big hit put the Penguins out of position in their own end, resulting in wide-open scoring chances for the Canadiens.  It was Fleury who stopped all of those chances, notably a point-blank save only 85 seconds into the game on a one-timer from Mike Cammalleri.

If Cammalleri scores on that play, who knows how Game Five ends up?  Thankfully for the Penguins, Fleury made that a moot issue.

In addition to Fleury’s individual performance, credit must be also given to his defense.  While they did have some missed assignments early on, as the game progressed they collapsed around Fleury to clear the puck or block shots if need be.

The only blemish on Fleury’s stats from Game Five was the puck that squirted between his legs with 30 seconds remaining after he thought he had stopped it, with the goal awarded to Cammalleri.  One could argue that the whistle possibly should have been blown by that time, but as it turned out the only difference it made was it took a shutout away from Fleury.  By the way, if he would have preserved the shutout, that would have been the first time that a Penguins goalie would have had two shutouts in a playoff series.

So now they head back to Montreal, where the Penguins should only hope to continue their steady play, this time on the road.  The only question now becomes whether we’ll see the Game Four Fleury, who gave up the early soft goal and the later wrap-around, or the Game Five Fleury, who makes the Penguins an awfully hard team to beat.

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  Tags: montreal+canadiens, nhl-hockey, pittsburgh+penguins

Comments

Moq's avatar

But early in the game that desire to make the big hit put the Penguins out of position in their own end, resulting in wide-open scoring chances for the Canadiens.

That has been a trend in this series, ie. giving up wide open chances even when allowing few shots. You get anxious everytime Montreal gets offensive zone pressure, because the chasing will allow someone (often Cammalleri) open in the slot sooner or later. The fact that we haven’t been punished more severely is more luck than skill.

Dominant physical play is nice, but we’re not getting that many results from the pressure in terms of chances around the goal. We should be able to do better than Gonchar picking a corner from the blue line.

And we don’t pay Crosby to do face-offs only, nor Malkin for figure skating lessons.

Posted by Moq from Denmark on 05/09/10 at 03:25 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

Flower never has 2 bad games in a row. Fact.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 05/09/10 at 03:30 PM ET

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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.

Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.

I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes.  I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.

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