Penguins: It was a fun evening for busy Fleury
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Some people, when they have idle time at work, surf the web, do a little texting, maybe even catch a nap if the boss isn't around.
Marc-Andre Fleury can only stand around when things get deadly dull. If he gets ambitious, he might swig some water or perhaps sweep some snow out of his crease.
The Penguins' goaltender figures he has been doing a little too much of those kinds of things and not enough sprawling, lunging, catching and poke-checking, so he liked it when Montreal made him work a little harder Saturday night.
"It was the busiest game, more shots," Fleury said after stopping 32 of those in a 2-1 Penguins victory at Mellon Arena that gave them a 3-2 edge in their second-round playoff series.
"It felt good to have some shots, make some saves. I felt useful to do something. That's a fun game -- just facing shots, doing something, not just stand there."
The 33 shots were the most the Canadiens have gotten in the series, and the second-most Fleury has faced in 11 postseason games. In a 2-0 shutout of Montreal in Game 3, he stopped just 18 shots.
He came a handful of clicks away from collecting his second shutout of the series. Mike Cammalleri scored with 29.7 seconds left in regulation while Montreal had a power play and goaltender Jaroslav Halak pulled, making it six skaters on four.
"I would have loved to get it," Fleury said of the shutout, "but it's the win that matters."
Cammalleri's goal came on a bang-bang play in the crease and after Fleury lost sight of the puck.
"I thought I had it, and then the ref didn't blow the whistle for a while, so I thought maybe the puck went out [of the crease] somewhere and I started looking, and he just poked it in," Fleury said.
Although Fleury wasn't forced to make a lot of spectacular saves, Cammalleri helped set the tone for the goalie when he launched a point-blank shot at him 1:20 into the first period.
"It's always good to start with a good save," Fleury said.
He made another key stop on Montreal's Glen Metropolit about 61/2 minutes into the second period with the Penguins clinging to a 1-0 lead.
Judging from the criticism aimed at Fleury in various public forums after nearly every Penguins loss, in the eyes of many, it would be good for him to make a lot more saves at any point in games.
"That's why I don't listen to the talk shows," he said. "It's simpler that way, I guess."
It's also more pleasant to play at Mellon Arena than it is at the Bell Centre against the Canadiens in his hometown.
"It feels good to be home, to hear my name in a good way, not like in Montreal," Fleury said.
With his 32 saves, Fleury nudged his save percentage for the playoffs to .903. His goals-against average entering the game was 2.57. Those numbers -- not so much his record, which he improved to 7-4 -- and the fact that some perceive them to be inflated by some soft goals seem to spark a lot of the criticism toward him.
"Sometimes things don't go his way, but he's a guy who battles all the time," defenseman Sergei Gonchar said.
Defenseman Kris Letang staunchly defended Fleury.
"He's always sharp," Letang said. "I've never been worried about Marc-Andre. He's always focused, always in the zone."
The numbers matter to Fleury, though.
"I would like to have better stats," he said. "But at the end of the day, if you're winning, that's what really matters."
Staying occupied between punches of the time clock is just a bonus.
"It was fun," Fleury said.
First Published May 9, 2010 12:00 am