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Follow Me on TwitterRob Soria is the Edmonton Oilers' correspondent for OurHometown.ca. Rob was born and raised in Edmonton and is the author of the Edmonton Oilers blog - OilDrop.ca. He has been a dedicated follower of the game and its history for years but his focus remains on his hometown Edmonton Oilers. If you have questions or wish to contact Rob, you can email him at rsoria@ourhometown.ca
Fleury backstops Penguins to huge win over the Flyers
Rob Soria
OurHometown.ca

Fleury backstops Penguins to huge win over the Flyers
After being yanked from the Pittsburgh goal during game three of the Penguins first round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, many felt netminder Marc-Andre Fleury had seen his last action of this year's playoffs. Fast forward two games and suddenly Fleury looks to be the man that may lead the Pens to a monumental comeback.
PHOTO CREDIT - PittsburghPenguins.com

Edmonton - April 21, 2012 - After being yanked from the Pittsburgh goal during the third game of the Penguins first round series against the Philadelphia Flyers, many felt netminder Marc-Andre Fleury had seen his last action of this year's playoffs. He had been so bad, that words alone could not describe his level of play. In this situation, it seemed that the numbers told the whole story. After three games the Pens goaltender had allowed seventeen goals on eight-four shots, leaving him with a simply dreadful .798 save percentage.

To his credit, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma backed his goalie despite his on ice troubles and confidentially stated that "Marc-Andre Fleury would be his goalie the next four games". Not sure if Bylsma actually believed his netminder would or could, find his game in time to save his team from certain elimination but the veteran did just that. After being the beneficiary of a ten goal outburst in game four, Fleury simply stole game five with an almost super human effort in the final period, to secure Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory over a suddenly tight Philadelphia Flyers side.

His start was less then spectacular. Fleury allowed two goals on just seven shots in the first period, one of which was just downright bad to Matt Carle to open the scoring. Add to that the fact he was cleanly beat on two other occasions and bailed out by his goal posts and it looked to be more of the same for the struggling netminder.

As they have for much of the series, the Penguins had little trouble scoring and found themselves with a 3-2 at the midway point of period two. Jordan Staal beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a laser to even things at two and Tyler Kennedy put Pittsburgh ahead with his third of the series at the 9:53 mark. They fought back and got their guy the lead and it was now up to him to step up and shut the door.

Philadelphia didn't generate much over the opening forty minutes, having fired all of twelve shots at the Penguins goal but that all changed in the final frame. The Flyers were relentless from the drop of the puck and took it to Pittsburgh throughout the period. They out shot them 14-8 over the final twenty and if not for the heroics of one Marc-Andre Fleury, the consensus pick by most to come out of the Eastern Conference, would have found themselves on the outside looking in.

In fairness, much of the predicament they were in was squarely on the shoulders of their number one netminder but he more then made up for it, by keeping the Flyers from scoring the equalizer on this night. The Pens found themselves shorthanded at the 7:37 mark, thanks to a slashing minor from Kennedy. Philadelphia's power play had torched Pittsburgh all series long and had already scored two goals on the man advantage in the first period. This appeared to be that turning point that most playoff games have. Either the Flyers would tie it up and get back all the momentum or the Penguins would kill it off and try to get this series to a sixth game.

The visitors had them pinned for what seemed to be the entire two minutes but Fleury finally looked like the guy who helped lead this franchise to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2009. First, he stoned a wide open Jakub Voracek from the faceoff dot with a beautiful positional stop. Moments later he would stop Claude Giroux and then make a brilliant blocker save off Jaromir Jagr. The Flower seemed to have suddenly found his groove and their was little that Philly could do about it.

With Kennedy's penalty nearing it's conclusion, the visitors would send one more assault towards the Penguins netminder and Fleury was up to the task, as he absolutely robbed Danny Briere not once but twice from the doorstep to preserve the one goal lead. Without a doubt, those were the two biggest stops made by a goalie in this year's playoffs. If either of those had found their way across the goal line, Pittsburgh would have been done. Instead, the building exploded and the Penguins players realized they had their star goaltender back.

Fleury put an exclamation mark on his performance, with two more great saves off Scott Hartnell late in the frame, including one of the talented netminders trade mark glove stops. Pittsburgh held on to take game five 3-2 and now look to be in the driver's seat, in a series that just a few short days ago, looked to be all but over.


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