Fleury records victory No. 150

Penguins goaltender seventh youngest to reach milestone

Just try figuring out what was more important for the Penguins in their 5-1 win Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury breaking out of his early season funk to get his second win of the season and 150th of his career?

Winning their third game at new Consol Energy Center after losing five of their first seven?

Or maybe was it playing a thorough, sound game at both ends to bounce back from a monumental third-period collapse two nights earlier, giving up five goals to erase a two-goal lead in a 7-4 loss to Boston?

"D) all of the above," said center Sidney Crosby, who had a goal and an assist.

"I think all those things."

Scouting report
  • Matchup: Penguins at Atlanta Thrashers, 7:08 p.m. today, Philips Arena.
  • TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
  • Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins. Chris Mason for Thrashers.
  • Penguins: Have gone 5-3-1 on road. ... C Evgeni Malkin has just four points in eight away games. ... Are 3-0 in second game when playing on consecutive days.
  • Thrashers: Are 3-3-1 at home. ... Dustin Byfuglien ranks among NHL's highest-scoring defensemen, with five goals and 11 assists. ... Have been outscored, 19-12, in first period
  • Hidden stat: Thrashers have outshot opponents just once in 16 games this season.

The Penguins held the Lightning to 11 even-strength shots, 16 overall, and the only goal Fleury yielded came during a Tampa Bay five-on-three power play when NHL leading scorer Steven Stamkos struck at 5:30 of the third period to close the Penguins' lead to 2-1.

The Penguins then reeled off three unanswered goals -- from Max Talbot off of a two-on-one break, from Crosby on an off-balance changeup and from Deryk Engelland, the first of his career -- after they had taken a 2-0 lead with goals 27 seconds apart in the second period by Pascal Dupuis and Alex Goligoski.

Checking off so many multiple-choice items from their list left the Penguins in a good mood as they packed after the game for a trip to Atlanta for a date tonight, but perhaps no one was smiling as much as Fleury, who at 25 years, 349 days old became the seventh-youngest goaltender to reach 150 wins by making 15 saves.

Just reaching No. 2 was foremost in the franchise goaltender's thoughts after starting 1-6 with bloated statistics.

"Just a little relief, a good feeling," Fleury said.

Earlier in the season, Fleury had heard some mock cheers from the home crowd. It was much different Friday.

Cheers -- the supportive kind, "Fleur-y" -- began even before the national anthem.

"Maybe I heard maybe a couple tough things [before], but the crowd tonight behind me right from the start cheering," Fleury said. "It was a good feeling. It was awesome."

It even gave Fleury's teammates confidence.

"I'd like to give some props to the fans," Talbot said. "It was pretty good what they did at the start of the game. I'm sure that gave him a little extra jump, screaming his name.

"But looking at him tonight, there was no doubt that he was going to make the stops tonight."

Although the Penguins played a strong, disciplined game defensively -- Stamkos' goal, for instance, came on the first of just two shots by him -- Fleury got a few stout tests.

At 6:38 of the first period, when the game could have been tilted either way, Lightning forwards Dominic Moore and Martin St. Louis got successive scoring chances from in close. Fleury stopped both shots, including a stellar right pad save on St. Louis.

St. Louis got a short breakaway in the second period, with the game still scoreless, and made one of his signature moves, sweeping right to left across the top of the crease. Fleury stayed with him and got his stick down to stop the puck as St. Louis sent it back toward the net.

"I think he played great," Tampa coach Guy Boucher said of Fleury.

"He made the key saves at the right moment. Martin St. Louis alone against the goalie, he's lethal and [Fleury] stopped that one. To me, that was a big part of the game right there because right there, you make it 1-0 for us. You put the other team on their heels and we're real good usually at closing games. It would've helped us a lot, but he made the big key save there."

Fleury and the Penguins' penalty killers helped keep the game in control when they had 1:25 of Tampa five-on-three power play time early in the third period with a one-goal lead, but after Stamkos goal, they clamped down.

Even then, the Penguins didn't alter things with a precarious lead, and this time it was them who scored some unanswered third-period goals to win.

"It was a patient game," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "There weren't a lot of chances. It has the potential to be a frustrating game. We stayed with it, stayed in the game, and every guy was a contributor."

Nine of the 18 skaters who dressed for the Penguins got at least one point.

The 19th player on the ice got a lot out of the game, too.

"Just a little relief, a good feeling," Fleury said.

For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721 First Published November 13, 2010 5:15 AM


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