It honestly won't matter which of the Pittsburgh Penguins' goaltenders is in net for Game 3 if the skaters in front of him play the way they did in the first two games.
"We didn't play well in front of our goalies. Our goalies are not to blame," Kris Letang said, correctly.
You could build a brick wall with a slot only slightly larger than the puck and call that the Pittsburgh goalie, but if you give Boston the amount of time and space they've had through two dates at CONSOL Energy Center, they might still win in a blowout.
That said, you're not allowed to start a wall, so Dan Bylsma had to select the goaltender he thought was most likely to resemble one for Game 3. He went with Tomas Vokoun.
"[We're] looking for a solid game from our goaltender," Bylsma explained. "We've gotten that from Tomas in virtually every game he's played, a real solid performance, and he's done that for us, and that's what we need tonight. We don't need perfection. We're looking for a solid game in between the pipes and from our goaltender to allow our team to win the hockey game."
Neither goalie gave Pittsburgh that in Game 2.
Vokoun lasted just sixteen and a half minutes, allowing three goals and one Marc-Andre Fleury to get past him. It was enough to make one wonder if Fleury could steal his job back after nearly a month as the backup. Most thought that all it would take was a strong showing in relief.
But before most could finish that thought, Brad Marchand had scored Boston's fourth goal of the game.
That goal was a back-breaker for Pittsburgh. With their firepower, a three-goal deficit is never the end of a game, especially with two periods remaining. And when Brandon Sutter trimmed it to 3-1, it looked like we might still have a game. Then Fleury allowed Marchand to negate that goal within seconds, and the Penguins went into the dressing room completely deflated.
Even then, Fleury might still have been able to steal the job. After a scoreless second period, there was still a glimmer of hope that they might be able to pull this one out with a strong third. But when Fleury was beaten by Patrice Bergeron less than 30 seconds into that third, the game went from all but over to over.
If those two momentum-decimating moments weren't enough to convince Bylsma that Vokoun bouncing back from an off-night was a safer bet than Fleury sparking a comeback in this series, the numbers are.
Vokoun has played 530 minutes of playoff hockey. He's allowed 20 goals. Fleury has played a little more than half that, at 290 minutes. He's allowed 17 goals. Vokoun's playoff save percentage is .929, which is respectable. Fleury's, at .883, is much less so.
So Vokoun gets the start, and we're left to wonder if we've seen the last of Marc-Andre Fleury in the postseason. Penguins fans have to hope that they have. It's Vokoun's job now, and if we're still wondering if he should gave it after Game 3, the Penguins are in an 0-3 hole.
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