Marc-Andre Fleury pitched his second shut out in two nights and the Pittsburgh Penguins took a 2-1 series lead with a 2-0 victory at the New York Rangers on Monday night.
We repeat: Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t allowed a goal in 120 straight minutes of playoff hockey.
"I don't think there was any question he was our best player tonight," said coach Dan Bylsma.
It was a game that saw the Rangers’ power play continue its descent into mediocrity, going 0-for-4 and extending a drought that reached 0-for-34 after they failed to convert on a late third period power play with Henrik Lundqvist pulled.
Worse yet, it contributed to the Penguins’ second goal of the game.
With Jussi Jokinen in the box for holding the stick, Mats Zuccarello sent a pass back to the point, but a miscommunication with Brad Richards saw the puck trickle to center ice. That’s where Jokinen, fresh from the sin bin, collected it, sped in on Lundqvist and beat the Rangers goalie for a 2-0 lead at 15:20 of the second.
It was the second breakaway goal Lundqvist surrendered in Game 3 – the first coming from the stick of Sidney Crosby, snapping a 12-game goal-less drought in the playoffs.
Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo found Crosby with a stretch pass from just inside the blue line of the Penguins’ defensive zone, sending the captain in alone on Lundqvist. His low shot beat Lundqvist through the pads, and silence blanketed the Garden at 2:34 of the second.
The goal was scored, naturally, after the Rangers had squandered a double-minor for high sticking on James Neal.
"It was huge for us," said Fleury. "Our guys did a good job blocking shots and clearing rebounds away."
After that, it was Fleury’s night … with some luck. The Rangers hit three posts, including a Zuccarello shot off the cross bar that had Fleury rubbing the iron in appreciation afterward.
But the Penguins goalie, as maligned a player as you’ll find in the playoffs, showed poise all night, flashing his glove and positioning himself well to thwart Rangers chances.
Marc-Andre Fleury, with back to back shutouts in the playoffs. Remember to tell your grandchildren one day where you were …
Game 4 is Wednesday night at MSG.
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