For the second time in as many nights, the Pittsburgh Penguins got the best of the Washington Capitals, defeating them 2-0. But this time around, Marc-Andre Fleury was the main reason for the victory.
People love to give Fleury slack about the way he has played in the last two postseasons, and even though it may be well-deserved, people forget that Fleury is a proven Stanley Cup champion and has stolen many games throughout his career. He’s always played well against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.
Fleury barely saw any action in the first period, only facing one legitimate scoring threat, where he stood tall and made a big kick save with just over two minutes remaining in the opening frame, but from there things got a little hectic.
With the Penguins holding onto a 1-0 lead in the second period, Fleury made one of the saves of the year on Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov.
After a shot came in from the point, Fleury was on his stomach attempting to cover the rebound when Kuznetsov picked it up and attempted to lift it over Fleury’s right pad. Relying solely on instincts, Fleury managed to lift his leg up just in time to kick out the puck and preserve the one goal lead for the Penguins.
Sidney Crosby made it 2-0 with just over five minutes remaining in the game, which finally game the Penguins some breathing room, but even in the final minutes of the game Fleury had to make some big saves to earn the shutout. Ovechkin got two solid one-timers off in the last few moments of the game, but each time Fleury was up to the task.
When the final horn sounded, Fleury ended the night with 32 saves — 20 of which came in the third period.
In a game between two teams with as much animosity toward one another as the Penguins and Capitals, I expected a more physical, clustered game, but there were only four penalties called all game, keeping the two best power plays in the NHL at bay for most of the contest.
I’m still worried in the lack of secondary scoring from the Penguins, their two goals tonight came Jussi Jokinen and Crosby, but if Fleury continues to play the way he did Tuesday night, it’s going to be very difficult to stop this team.