Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury blocks a shot by the Florida Panthers' Jonathan Huberdeau.
By Jason Mackey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Nobody could blame Marc-Andre Fleury — or even Matt Murray — for growing frustrated with the Penguins’ goaltending situation this season.
“Sometimes there isn’t enough net for both of them because they’re both competitive guys and they want to be in the net every night,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “The reality is that we can’t provide that for them.”
And one who’s seemingly more and more at ease now that the trade deadline has passed.
Fleury stopped all 21 shots he faced to record his first shutout of the season, his first since Feb. 29, 2016 against Arizona and the 44th of his career.
Since the trade deadline, Fleury has stopped 141 of 149 shots in four starts and a relief appearance, a save percentage of .946 that has helped him grab three wins.
“It’s been awhile,” Fleury said. “I was definitely happy to make it until the end. There were a few saves here and there. It was a lot of fun.”
Chants of “Fleury! Fleury!” serenaded the goaltender at various points in the game.
Although Fleury did not play his best early on in 2016-17 while acclimating to the two-goalie system, he never complained. Even around the trade deadline, all he did was smile and hope for the best.
It’s safe to say that the Penguins were elated that things have turned around for him.
“We know both goalies can help us win,” Sullivan said. “Marc is a guy who has been a great pro all year long and a great teammate. We’re thrilled for him.”
They practiced that?
When Phil Kessel flipped a puck to Patric Hornqvist from behind the net for the Penguins’ first goal Sunday, it was actually the second time it had occurred.
“We always play around with the last puck,” Fleury said of the team's on-ice warmup. “That’s how he scored the last goal [Sunday], too. Hornqvist, same thing. Flip over the net, he smashed it in.
“Tells you it wasn’t luck. These guys are very skilled. They can put it in.”
Trocheck gets ‘A’
When Aaron Ekblad was hurt four games ago, Panthers coach Tom Rowe texted Upper St. Clair’s Vincent Trocheck with a message that he was getting an “A” stitched on his sweater as one of the team’s alternate captains.
“He said, ‘OK, thank you.’” Rowe said. “That’s what I love about him. Every game he plays in, he thinks he’s the best player. That’s why he’s going to be a great player. He still has some things to learn, obviously. He’s a gamer, and I’d go to war with him any day of the week.”
Trocheck has 22 goals and 49 points in 71 games, numbers that put him on track to equal or eclipse his career-best marks in those categories — 25 and 53.
But as Rowe explained, it’s not just about the points.
“When he’s not scoring, he usually plays pretty good defense for us,” Rowe said. “He’s killing penalties for us. He’s competing. He’s finishing hits. He’s very, very fiery on the bench. When we’re not going good, he’s not afraid to get in someone’s face.”
Greatness on greatness
Sidney Crosby might’ve recorded a hat trick, but he failed to move past Jaromir Jagr on the Penguins’ all-time assist list; they remain tied with 640.
Not like that matters.
Especially not when it comes to how impressed Jagr is with what Crosby does on a night-in, night-out basis.
“You can look at him and say he’s lucky because every puck goes to him,” Jagr said. “He knows how to create the plays. He knows how to lift the stick. He’s quick with the hands. Not just the legs, he’s quick with the hands. He’s quicker than everybody else.”
Jason Mackey: email@example.com and Twitter @JMackeyPG.
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