Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stopping The 'Fleury'

Marc-Andre Fleury with the save of the series...and possibly the playoffs...and possibly the YEAR!

Marc-Andre Fleury withstood the flurry of shots fired his way Monday night, stopping 55 of 58 shots fired his way. The Pens had 32 shots, but won the game.

Fleury stood on his head throughout the match, putting on an exceptional clinic in goal to help lead the Penguins to a 4-3 triple overtime victory over Detroit in MoTown.

The Red Wings had their hopes of winning Lord Stanley's Cup on home ice crushed in the loss, but, should Pittsburgh win Wedenesday in game 6, they'll have another crack at getting the job done at the Joe on Saturday for a deciding 7th game.

Fleury made 55 saves (at least 10 highlight-reel worthy) in the memorable marathon victory before Petr Sykora scored 9:57 into the third overtime period.

The goal was scored on the powerplay as Jiri Hudler was assessed a 4-minute double-minor for high-sticking and causing Rob Scuderi to bleed from his chin. Sykora took a pass from Malkin and released a wrister high-glove and short-side on Osgood who had Ryan Malone on the doorstep providing the screen.

In a remarkable twist of fate, Sykora had promised his teammates during the intermission of the second overtime periods that he would score.
"Something stupid I said," Sykora said. "'Guys, I'm going to get one.'"

Malone took a shot off the nose, causing it to break for the fourth time of his career - and second this series alone.

Sergei Gonchar was injured late in the second period backchecking on a 2-on-1 Detroit rush, which wound up with Marc-Andre Fleury making the save of the series and possibly of the playoffs. Crosby coughed the puck up in Detroit's zone, which allowed Mikael Samuelsson and Valtteri Filppula to go on a 2-on-1. Samuelsson went cross ice to Filppula, who went back for Samuelsson for the easy 'slam-dunk'.

Not so easy after all.

Fleury gave a tremendous push off the right skate, moved laterally and got the left toe of the skate in the puck's way in superb acrobatic fashion.

This was the highlight of all Fleury's saves, but he had MANY other highlight reel stops in the contest.

''You win as a team and lose as a team and I just tried to do my job,'' Fleury said.

Penguins head coach Michel Therrien had nothing but praise for his young netminder.

"This was huge for him," Therrien said at the podium following the game. "No doubt this was the most important win of his career."

The Pens jumped out to an early 2-0 first period lead off goals from Marian Hossa, and - Niklas Kronwall?

After Hossa put the Pens up by one, Niklas Kronwall was trying to clear the puck out of the crease area. Adam Hall tried to beat him to the puck, and as Kronwall tried sending it to the corner, the puck wound up going top corner passed Osgood as it deflected off Hall's skate.

The Red Wings would answer, however, with three unanswered tallies.

First, Darren Helm had a shot of his own go in off a Penguin defenseman's skate.

Then, after hitting the crossbar ealier, Pavel Datsyuk redirected a Zetterberg slap-pass passed Fleury, five hole.

3 minutes later, Franzen, down low, hit a pinching Brian Rafalski, who stalled instead of one-timing, allowing Fleury to move too far off his position, and he wristed one far side.

As time dwindled down, moving images of Mr. Pritchard shining the Stanley Cup in the locker room were being displayed...but the Pens weren't set to lose just yet.

With Fleury pulled, Max Talbot came on as the sixth skater...and two fatal errors by Red Wings stars Zetterberg and Franzen allowed Crosby to get the puck down low to Hossa, who took a freak-wild shot at the side of the goal. Talbot, unmanned, had two cracks at the puck at the side of the net with Osgood offering just the left pad in defense. After being stopped by that same pad the first attempt, Talbot slammed home the puck on the second.

The Penguins were without D Kristopher Letang, who was excused by the team to attend former-teammate and best friend Luc Bourdon's funeral.

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