Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fleury Answers Bell as Penguins Advance First-Round Win Helps Ease Pain from a Year Ago

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fleury Answers Bell as Penguins Advance First-Round Win Helps Ease Pain from a Year Ago

Article excerpt

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here are the numbers:

A 2.81 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage, no shutouts.

Now, look past those numbers.

Look at this instead: 4-2.

That's the record Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had in the first-round playoff series win that culminated with a 4-3 victory Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena -- the first postseason series win for the Penguins with Fleury in net all the way through since a six-game win against Ottawa in the first round in 2010.

"He's been really good," defenseman Matt Niskanen said of Fleury. "I mean, he's been really good. What a series.

"Could he have made more saves? Sure, he could have. But a lot more could have gone in, too, in these stretches where we were back on our heels."

Such as the third period in Game 6. The Penguins started that period with a 4-0 lead and the possibility of Fleury earning a shutout.

In the end, they were hanging on by their fingernails -- or at least by Fleury's ability to make enough saves.

"It's a good test," Fleury said. "Being able to stay calm, stay focused. I think I was. I think I made a few good saves in there."

After Columbus scored its third goal in a span of 4:52 in the third period to close to 4-3, the fans at Nationwide Arena jeered, "Fleur-y."

The Blue Jackets didn't get another shot past Fleury.

And now, perhaps, Fleury won't be facing as many shots off the ice.

Although he won 39 games this season, the sixth time he has had 35 or more in the regular season, his playoff form has been analyzed and questioned since he helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2009.

"People kept asking questions," coach Dan Bylsma said. "Was every goal [in this series] perfect? Was he perfect? No ... but he answered the bell with his play."

And did it with no signs of a crisis of confidence. …

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