Penguins notebook: Fleury does just enough to get win
January 5, 2014 10:20 PM
Winnipeg's Evander Kane puts the puck past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period Sunday.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It was the kind of game that many fans love, and lots of forwards enjoy.
Also the kind coaches hate a lot, and goaltenders hate even more.
But even though the Penguins’ 6-5 victory against Winnipeg Sunday at Consol Energy Center isn’t likely to get much space on Marc-Andre Fleury’s personal highlights tape for 2013-14, he did come through with a stop that made it possible for the Penguins to stretch their winning streak on home ice to 12.
With 2:24 left in regulation, he denied Jets captain Andrew Ladd on a rebound from the edge of the crease.
That save might not have salved all the indignities Fleury endured while playing in a Game That Defense Forgot, but it did take away at least some of the sting.
“At that point, I was just trying to make the next stop,” Fleury said. “It’s good to make that stop and get the win, definitely, but it was a long night.”
And certainly not one he appreciated as much as the crowd of 18,652 seemed to.
“Not so much,” Fleury said. “Not at all.”
Canadian Olympic roster
Canada will announce its Olympic roster Tuesday morning, and it’s likely that most, if not all, of the decisions on personnel have been made.
But just in case they haven’t, Penguins right winger James Neal — who, like teammate Chris Kunitz, is believed to be on the bubble for being selected — tried to make a case one final time for a spot on the team.
And he did a pretty fair job of it, scoring two goals and setting up another.
“I’ve tried to do everything I can to be a part of that team,” Neal said. “It’d be an honor to represent your country. We’ll see what happens.”
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, who will coach Team USA at the Games in Sochi, Russia, said Neal has been “doing an awful lot to show what he can do.”
He also joked — OK, probably joked — that he wouldn’t influence the decision-makers at Hockey Canada to clear a place for Neal.
“When I see him shoot the puck like he is right now and shoot the puck like he is,” Bylsma said, “I’m not sure I want to talk him up too much for their team.”
Bylsma ties mark
The victory was Bylsma’s 232nd as coach of the Penguins, tying Ed Johnston’s franchise record.
Johnston accumulated his over several stints behind the bench, while Bylsma has gotten all of his since replacing Michel Therrien in February of 2009.
“My first press conference, someone told me no coach had ever made it four full years,” Bylsma said. “So that was the goal I had on my mind, in terms of being a Penguins coach.”
Tangradi slowly making strides
Just a few years ago, Eric Tangradi was one of the Penguins’ most promising prospects.
He appeared to have genuine power-forward potential, and looked to be no worse than an even-money bet to fill a top-six role eventually.
The Penguins soured on him, however, and he was traded nearly a year ago to the Jets.
That change has yet to jump-start his career.
Tangradi, 24, played just five minutes and eight seconds Sunday — enough time, it should be noted, to rack up four hits, tying him for the team lead — and has just one goal and three assists in 34 appearances this season.
“The thing we saw in Eric when we got him last year, he was making strides in how he was playing. He was strong on pucks, he was dependable, got pucks to the net, used his body to protect pucks to the net, got himself to the net,” Jets coach Claude Noel said. “I thought he did pretty good.
“This year, he’s gone along that same avenue, but what we’ve wanted to see a little more is, can he continue to grow? That’s what we’re looking to see.”
Noel said the Jets have seen that growth “in spurts” this season, but not as often as they would like.
“We haven’t seen it consistently,” he said. “In all fairness to him, he hasn’t had a whole lot of ice time. It’s not like he’s playing 14 minutes a game.”
Right winger Craig Adams appeared in his 345th game with the Penguins, tying Robert Lang’s franchise record for most games played by someone brought in off of waivers. … The Penguins will leave today for a three-game swing through Western Canada, beginning with a stop Tuesday in Vancouver.
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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