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Fleury earns shutout as Pens top Devils

The SportsXchange

PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside all 27 New Jersey shots, including a penalty shot, Thursday night in Pittsburgh to earn his 250th career win as the Penguins topped the Devils 3-0.

Chuck Kobasew, who inked a contract Wednesday, notched his first goal as a Penguin midway through the first, which proved to be the game-winner in Fleury's 24th career shutout.

"I believe Marc-Andre Fleury is a very good goalie," said Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. "I think he's proven that time and time again."

Both teams were looking for fresh starts after disappointing ends to last season. The Devils began life without Ilya Kovalchuk after missing the playoffs for just the third time in 23 seasons. Meanwhile, the Penguins looked to start anew after their embarrassing Eastern Conference finals sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins.

Pittsburgh struck first when newcomer Kobasew found a rebound of a Brandon Sutter shot that handcuffed Devils goaltender Cory Schneider. The resulting rebound popped to the stick of Kobasew, who pushed it past Schneider to give the Penguins a 1-0 advantage at 9:26 of the first.

"It's tough to get down against a team like that and claw back," said Schneider.

Less than three minutes later, the Penguins scored again off a brilliant effort from Sidney Crosby. The Pittsburgh captain glided through center ice where he took a chip pass from Pascal Dupuis and used his speed to break in alone on Schneider. When he got to the hash mark of the left faceoff circle he unleashed a wrist shot that beat the New Jersey netminder over his glove hand at the 12:19 mark of the first.

"I was able to get some space and get some room to take a shot," said Crosby.

The assist for Dupuis was his 200th career helper.

The Penguins added a third goal when winger Craig Adams, appearing in his 800th career game, beat Schneider with a wrist shot from the right wing circle at 11:42 of the third. Adams, not known for his goal scoring, quipped after that game, "There's no reason I can't score 82."

Shortly thereafter, Fleury made an incredible behind the back glove save on a shot that deflected off of the post to preserve the shutout.

"I heard the post and felt it in my back and felt to reach as quickly as possible, from watching the (Pittsburgh) Pirates I guess."

The final test for Fleury came with 3:59 left in the third when he stopped Adam Henrique on a penalty shot with a right pad save.

NOTES: Penguins LW James Neal logged just 3:49 of ice time in the first period and did not return after the first frame. He had been dealing with a lower body injury and there was speculation that he would not dress for the game. After the game, Bylsma said that they did not want to aggravate the injury any further and he will be reevaluated Friday. ... With Schneider getting the start in goal, Martin Brodeur's NHL record for consecutive season-opening starts with the same team ended at 18. ... D Olli Maatta, 19, became the youngest rookie defensemen to start the season with the Penguins since Kris Letang in the 2006-07 season. ... Devils RW Jaromir Jagr began the night tied with Phil Esposito for the most game-winning goals in NHL history. ... Scratches for Pittsburgh were D Deryk Engelland and F Joe Vitale. Letang is on injured reserve due to a lower-body issue. ... Scratches for New Jersey were D Mark Fayne, C Patrik Elias (lower body), C Jacob Josefson and LW Rostislav Olesz. ... The Penguins' next game will be Saturday when they host the Buffalo Sabres. The Devils will be in action again Friday when they host the New York Islanders to complete their first of 22 sets of back-to-back games.

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