Beyond The Benches

Fleury Shuts Out Rangers … Again!

The Penguins took Game 3 as well as a 2-1 series lead in New York Monday night. The story of the night– Marc-Andre Fleury.  The Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltender stole the show as he pitched his second shutout in as many nights.  Fleury now holds the Penguins’ all-time post-season shutout record with eight.

The 2-0 victory by Pittsburgh was not an easy one.  The Penguins’ took four penalties throughout the contest and had to rely heavily on their defensive core to keep the Rangers scoreless.  The first period, overall, was an even battle with little scoring chances.  Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist did look sharp.  Lundqvist stopped Penguins’ winger Chris Kunitz with a left pad save on a shorthanded breakaway early in the first period.  Marc-Andre Fleury absolutely robbed Mats Zuccarello during the later stages of the first period with a tremendous glove save.

The game would have looked extremely different going into the second period had Fleury not made that glove save.  The Rangers also received an opportunity to snap the 0-0 tie when Penguins’ winger James Neal was charged with a four minute double-minor for high sticking Rangers’ forward Jesper Fast. However, New York failed to capitalize on the man-advantage and continued to an atrocious 0 for their last 33 power-play chances.

The Penguins were able to snap the 0-0 tie at 2:34 of the second period when Sidney Crosby beat Henrik Lundqvist through the five-hole on a breakaway.  The goal was a long-time coming for the Penguins’ captain, as the tally was his first goal this post-season.  Just 12 minutes later, Jussi Jokinen scored a goal as he snuck behind the Rangers’ defense after exiting the penalty box for his holding penalty.  Jokinen, a known shootout-specialist, was able to sneak the puck under the blocker of Lundqvist to increase the Penguins’ lead to two goals.

The Penguins were able to bear down defensively, blocking shots and clearing out loose pucks in the slot, after securing the two goal lead.  But they were not without the help of Marc-Andre Fleury, who was looking like his 2009 Stanley Cup Champion winning self.  Fleury stopped 35 shots during Game 3 and has not relented a goal against the Rangers since Game 1 of the series.  Fleury was square to the puck on almost every shot he faced and was controlling his rebounds. He looked calm, cool and collected when the Penguins found themselves being hounded by shot after shot during the third period.

Look for Rangers’ head coach Alain Vigneault to make some changes on the forward end to create more offensive opportunities.  New York’s reliance on their bottom six forwards, like Dan Carcillo, Benoit Pouliot and Derick Brassard is killing them because their star players like Rick Nash and Derek Stepan are not contributing to the scoresheet.  The Rangers are in deep trouble if they expect to win this series by grit and goaltending alone.

 

 

James Stolfi is a hockey fan/ former goalie turned journalist from the New York metro area. A recent college graduate, majoring in Digital Media/Broadcast Production. He can be contacted on twitter @JamesStolfi.