Penguins Notebook: Fleury still searching for shutout
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Marc-Andre Fleury turned in one of his better performances of the season Sunday night, stopping 21 of 22 shots in the Penguins' 2-1 victory against Tampa Bay at the St. Pete Times Forum.
His reflexes were sharp and he was anticipating plays from the earliest moments of the game.
But his most impressive work might not have come until the third period, when Fleury didn't face a shot for the first 17 1/2 minutes, but still managed to keep the edge needed to reject the five shots the Lightning threw at him in the final 2:23.
"I was getting cold," Fleury said. "It was a long time to just stand there. I tried to go in the corners, maybe go behind the net more than I [usually do], just to try to stay warm."
Tampa Bay got its only goal when Vincent Lecavalier scored from the inner edge of the right circle at 8:09 of the second period. That wasn't enough to earn two points, but did prevent Fleury from recording his first shutout of the season.
"I can't get that stupid shutout," he said. "[Lecavalier's shot] was fast, but still, it would be nice to get one at some point."
Fleury's victory was his 143th in the NHL, tying him with Manny Fernandez and Brian Heyward for 100th place on the all-time list.
The first time the Penguins played in Tampa this season, assistant coach Mike Yeo had blood-pressure problems that led to him spending several days in the hospital.
He experienced some of the same symptoms -- woozy, weakness in the knees, etc.-- before the game Sunday, but there was no need for extensive medical testing. The culprit was a lot less mysterious.
"Any chest pains I had came from watching the game again during the pre-scout," Yeo said, smiling. "I definitely know why it happened."
As evidenced by his ability to joke about what happened in early January, his health is pretty much a non-issue these days.
"I've been feeling really good," he said. "I'm on medication, and that seems to have helped a lot. I've tried to adjust my lifestyle a little bit -- how much coffee I drink, and how much I exercise.
"But more than anything else, I just try to try, mentally, not hold onto things as tightly as I was before. And I think I've done a pretty good job of that."
Right winger Tyler Kennedy, a healthy scratch for the previous two games, and defenseman Jay McKee, who hadn't played in five of the previous six, returned to the Penguins' lineup.
Center Max Talbot and defenseman Alex Goligoski were scratched to make room for them.
"We have, since the [trade] deadline, had the luxury of good hockey players who haven't been playing," coach Dan Bylsma said.
Kennedy got 10 minutes, 56 seconds of ice time and played some at center in the third period, after Evgeni Malkin was injured. McKee played 14:34.
"Being back in the lineup was a great feeling," McKee said. "It was tough seeing a guy I've battled with all season long [Goligoski] be the odd-man-out.
"There certainly are mixed emotions. But the bottom line is, every guy wants to play here and we're very fortunate that we have great depth on the back end."
Lightning left winger Ryan Malone, a former Penguin, did not dress for the third time in the past four games because of an undisclosed injury.
He does not have a goal in his past 15 games.
The Penguins did not practice Saturday and had an optional game-day skate early Sunday morning.
That reflects Bylsma's desire to keep his players' energy reserves as high as possible as they move down the stretch drive and, they hope, another extended playoff run.
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet takes a different approach. While acknowledging the grind of the season, Tocchet obliged his players to go on the ice either Saturday or Sunday, leaving each individual to act on his preference.
"With our team, we have to stay on top of them, in the focus department," he said. "I didn't want, basically, to have two days where nobody got on the ice or [had] any kind of focus, especially against the Penguins."
First Published March 15, 2010 12:00 am