Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Flower Power!

The critics say he was soft in Game 2. The critics say that he cannot come up big in clutch situations. Some critics even say that he should be benched for backup goaltender Brent Johnson. But honestly, since when does Marc-Andre Fleury care about the critics? He gave them all a reason to eat their words Tuesday night when he made some huge saves in the beginning and ending of the game to give the Pens the 2-0 victory and himself his first shutout of the playoffs. Nearly anybody who watched the game could tell you that Fleury was the main reason why the Pens won, and he was in great form. The Pens skaters had an extremely sloppy first period, and the Canadiens controlled much of the play in the offensive zone. Fleury had a match for their every move, however, as he held the fort down through the first and allowed the Pens to regain their composure in the second. After a slow second, in which Fleury did not see much action, he was golden in the third, robbing several golden opportunities by Montreal and killing off a penalty late in the game to secure the victory. Fleury was not the only one silencing critics, however. After a bit of a lackadaisical start to the series, Evgeni Malkin scored the lone even-strength goal for the Pens and had a strong game overall. It occurred on a powerplay early in the third in which he took a pass from teammate Sergei Gonchar and shot a laser shot that Halak did not see until it hit the twine behind him. Pascal Dupuis also added a late empty net goal to close out the game and secure the 2-1 series lead for Pittsburgh. Playoff wins are great, and it is another step in the right direction for the Pens, but that should not take away from another good performance from Halak. Had it not been for some Fleury-magic, this may have been an entirely different story. While they looked significantly improved with settling the play down and trying to get good positioning on the defense, they still need to work on getting traffic in front of Halak and scoring the "ugly goals." Nevertheless, it gives the Pens home ice advantage again in the series and a chance to really make an impact in the series if they win again in Game 4 Thursday night at Bell Centre.

No comments: