Fleury could sit with snap of finger

Curry may be in goal tonight

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- It was supposed to be one of the key elements of tonight's game between the Penguins and Vancouver -- Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins facing Roberto Luongo of the Canucks, two goaltenders who will be vying for playing time as Canadian teammates at the Vancouver Olympics next month.

Now that matchup of goaltenders is in jeopardy.

Fleury, the Penguins' No. 1 goalie, has a broken left ring finger. It is not considered a serious injury but could keep him out of tonight's game at GM Place, which will serve as the main hockey arena for the Winter Games.

"I guess we'll see [this] morning. It was kind of sore [yesterday] morning," said Fleury, who has had three strong games on this season-long five-game road trip, helping the Penguins to go into the final stop tonight 3-1.

Scouting report
  • Matchup: Penguins at Vancouver Canucks, 10:08 p.m. today, GM Place, Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
  • Probable goaltenders: John Curry for Penguins. Roberto Luongo for Canucks.
  • Penguins: Are 1-6 vs. Vancouver since 2001-02. ... RW Tyler Kennedy has a goal in each of past two games. ... C Evgeni Malkin has no goals in past 11 games.
  • Canucks: Have lost 3 in row after 4-game winning streak. ... C Henrik Sedin led NHL with 64 points through yesterday. ... C Ryan Kesler has 8 points in past 7 games.
  • Hidden stat: Canucks have outscored opponents in third period by 25 goals.

Fleury had soreness and swelling yesterday and did not practice with teammates at GM Place. He got hurt at 7:53 of the second period of Thursday's 3-2 victory at Edmonton while making a save on Ryan Potulny's slap shot.

"Weird. It doesn't happen very often. It just kind of squeezed between my glove and my pads and got me in a bad spot," said Fleury, who had the bloody finger wrapped and finished the game.

If Fleury can't start, it's likely that John Curry will. He was recalled Monday from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to fill in as the backup because Brent Johnson has an undisclosed injury. Johnson is eligible to come off injured reserve today but has not practiced.

Coach Dan Bylsma said Johnson is day to day and "moving forward" with his recovery.

If Fleury and Johnson aren't available to at least back up Curry, the Penguins will have to fill that void on their roster.

"We've got several different scenarios going on," Bylsma said.

Those could include promoting Brad Thiessen, a first-year pro who signed with the Penguins in April after being a first-team All-American and Hobey Baker Award finalist at Northeastern University; or bringing in another goaltender by trade or free-agent signing.

Thiessen, though, started for Wilkes-Barre in a game at Binghamton last night.

Fleury has been starting to get on a roll. After he was tagged with four losses in a row and a no-decision after the Christmas break, he has allowed just four goals combined in the three wins on this road trip and making several game-saving stops.

"It's been going all right," Fleury said in one of his standard understatements. "I've had some talks with [goaltending coach Gilles Meloche]. He just told me to try to focus and challenge a little more instead of being patient in net. It's been working well."

Until the finger issue, anyway.

Curry, 25, played three games with the Penguins last season, going 2-1 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .913 save percentage. He has been the top goaltender at Wilkes-Barre and is considered a top candidate to be the Penguins' regular backup as soon as next season.

"I've played a lot of games -- not at the NHL level, but I'm ready to take my game to the next level," he said. "I've just got to prepare myself as if I am playing and let the cards fall as they do."

His short time at the NHL level last season and this week, even in practice, has done him wonders.

"You gain confidence from being up here, making a save on Sid [Crosby] or [Evgeni Malkin]. You feel good about it. You're forced to be better. You're forced to be quicker, more on top of your game."

Curry feels better about his stick-handling outside of the crease, his rebound control and his ability to stay more square to the play.

Bylsma, who coached Curry at Wilkes-Barre, doesn't flinch at the idea of starting him tonight.

"John is a guy who we feel confident in his ability to play," Bylsma said. "He showed he can play and win games last year at this level and understood he was probably going to play some games for us this year. If that's the case come [today], then that's something we're comfortable with."

When Curry got called up Monday, Thiessen moved up to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for his second stint in the AHL. Thiessen has spent most of this season with the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL.

When he moved up to Wilkes-Barre, Thiessen was on a 5-0 run with a 2.00 goals-against average and .933 save percentage during that time.

For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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