Fleury right on the mark as Penguins beat Rangers, 2-0
Marc-Andre Fleury gloves one of his 27 saves en route to his franchise record-tying 22nd career shutout in the Penguins' 2-0 win vs. the New York Rangers.
Evgeni Malkin's 33rd goal of the season gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the second period Tuesday night.
Paul Martin checks New York's Ryan Callahan into the Penguins bench Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center.
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Marc-Andre Fleury has had games like this before.
Chances are good that he'll have quite a few more, too.
It's just that no one, including Fleury, can predict when.
"Some days, I feel great and I let in five," he said. "Some other days, I don't feel good and I don't let in much."
- 1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Penguins G: 27 saves
- 2. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins C: 1 goal, 1 assist
- 3. Steve Sullivan, Penguins LW: 1 goal
Fleury volunteered that he "felt good" before the Penguins' 2-0 victory Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at Consol Energy Center, and he surely felt even better when it was over.
He stopped all 27 pucks the Rangers threw at him and looked fully capable of stopping 27 more if he had had to.
"We just couldn't finish on Fleury," New York coach John Tortorella said.
And the Rangers probably couldn't have if they'd tried for three more periods. Or three more days.
Fleury's shutout was the 22nd of his career, tying Tom Barrasso's franchise record.
"I always liked to watch him," Fleury said. "So, for me to be able to reach him for the shutout [mark], it means a lot to me."
The victory raised the Penguins record to 34-21-5 and ended a run of five consecutive victories here for the Rangers.
New York continues to hold down first in the Eastern Conference with 81 points, while the Penguins are tied with Philadelphia for fifth with 73.
The Penguins aren't likely to overtake New York for the top spot in the East -- the Rangers have two games in hand, as well as that eight-point lead -- but beating the Rangers for the second game in a row should give them a bit of a confidence boost.
New York is one of several opponents -- Boston and the Flyers are on the list, too -- that had given the Penguins fits until recently.
So, while those victories are important now for the points they provide, they might matter even more this spring, when the Penguins could face any -- or all -- of them in a best-of-seven playoff series.
"We feel like Philly's a team we are going to possibly see in the first round," coach Dan Bylsma said.
"We wanted to make that statement in that game. Same thing with the Rangers. They're leading the East right now by a [large] margin.
"We feel like we're going to play this team two more times and in the playoffs, too, if we want to go places. We wanted to make a statement with every chance, every shift we get, every period we play against them. We played three [periods] tonight, and we get six more against them."
Evgeni Malkin gave Fleury the only goal he would need at 1:05 of the second period, when he pulled in a long pass from Kris Letang, then moved down the left-wing boards before cutting toward the net and flipping a backhander past New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
"I tried to be patient," Lundqvist said. "He kept dragging, dragging, dragging, and I didn't have enough push when I went down. He just out-waited me there.
"It's disappointing in a one-on-one situation like that. Obviously, you want to come up with the save and make the difference for the team. He's a tough guy, no question.
"He's the difference for them."
Malkin's shot was impressive, but so was the pass that set up the goal.
Not so much because Letang managed to put the puck in a spot when Malkin could get it, but because he had to make sure teammate Chris Kunitz, who was standing between them, didn't pick off the pass before it got to Malkin.
"I tried to put it over [Kunitz] by putting it off the glass," Letang said.
"I was making sure nobody would touch it. I was just trying to put it in a space. [Malkin] had a lot of room to skate."
Malkin, who has a league-high 71 points, picked up his 300th NHL assist at 11:14 of the second.
He gave the puck to Steve Sullivan, who beat Lundqvist with a slap shot from the right point on a power play for his 11th of the season.
Although the Penguins got their goals during the middle period, they set the tone with a strong first period, particularly the first 10 minutes or so. They kept the play in the Rangers end much of the time and generated a number of quality scoring chances.
"They got a really good sense of what we were going to bring for the whole 60 minutes," Sullivan said.
"We laid the groundwork in the first period for the second and third."
So did his team's goaltender.
First Published February 22, 2012 12:00 am