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Fleury leads battered Penguins to victory over Avalanche

Apr 6, 2014, 11:02 PM EDT

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon tries to score on Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Denver. (AP Photo/Chris Schneider) AP

The Penguins were missing Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, Marcel Goc, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, and Olli Maatta tonight…but they still had goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He kicked out 39 shots in regulation to lead them to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Pittsburgh also had forward Brandon Sutter, who logged 23:33 minutes with most of the team’s top-six forwards sidelined, and scored two goals in the span of 3:22 minutes. Jussi Jokinen made his return tonight and registered an assist before beating Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov in the shootout.

Although he came up short, Varlamov also had a good night, stopping 30 of 32 shots. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in regulation in a single contest since March 25.

The Avalanche aren’t dealing with the sheer volume of injuries that Pittsburgh has, but it is worth noting that they were missing top scorer Matt Duchene. Despite that, the Avalanche rallied back from a 2-0 deficit and Patrick Bordeleau bought the team a point with his goal at 16:47 of the third period.

Pittsburgh’s already locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference, so these two points won’t impact the Eastern Conference standings. It does have meaning to the Chicago Blackhawks though as they try to close the gap between them and the Colorado Avalanche in the battle for the second seed in the Central Division.

  1. pitpenguinsrulez - Apr 6, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    I really wish the Pens would play like they did tonight more consistently with the stars. As for the Avs, how you lose to essentially a minor league after shutting out the Blues is beyond me. I was also a bit surprised to see Sid out with tonight’s game.

    • smangold4 - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM

      Fleury stole this game. He was absolutely robbing the Avs in the 1st a couple times, and I remember one glove save in the 3rd that was a jaw dropper. That being said neither team played a very tight game defensively and I would think the Avs were running on empty, with 7 games in 13 days including a very emotional and penalty filled game yesterday.

      How you guys played so well without 5 of your top 6 forwards and 3 of your 6 D-men is beyond me, but still glad the Avs stole a point.

      • hockey412 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:47 AM

        Fleury looked very calm – that’s not all that normal for him. When he’s calm, he’s sound. He hasn’t been calm for years.

        I agree with what you said about how the teams played defensively.

        The Pens have had this problem before – and it needs addressed (maybe it’s what Dan was trying to do)…with Sid, Malkin and the others in the line-up, the other guys don’t work NEAR as hard as they do without them. That’s a huge problem. He also brought up some new blood – I wouldn’t have put Ebbett in, but Payerl was a good addition – he believes so much in veterans that the team desparately needs the spark that the younger players can provide on offense.

    • jernster21 - Apr 7, 2014 at 12:34 AM

      The Avs didn’t “lose” the game since they came back from 0-2 to get a point on a back to back night after a brutally physical game against the Blues. To be honest, the Pens dominated the game; the Avs didn’t get any bounces all night, and and Fleury was unbelievable, so the fact that they got a point pretty much explains why the Avs are where they are up to this point in the season. Against all odds, they seem to be able to get something when it doesn’t look like there’s anything. The Avs weren’t as depleted as the Pens, I’ll give them that, but we’re also playing Ryan Wilson (defenseman) who has been a healthy scratch most of the season, on offense, so we aren’t exactly rolling our best 4 lines either.

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Not enough is being made of that win last night that was a great effort just a great win

  2. chanceoffleury - Apr 7, 2014 at 1:04 AM

    This is the exact Fleury the Pens are gonna need to show up in the playoffs if they have any hope of challenging Boston to get out of the east (or just out of the first round, if history has taught me anything). With the right matchups they are still a pretty serious threat to everyone else in the conference, but Boston has been playing in a league of their own since the turn of the olympic break. Fleury needs to take the next week and start channeling his 2008 self. The Pens are gonna need him, so if he wants to make a statement playoff comeback this would be a wise year to do it.

    Weirdly enough I am secretly rooting for Philly to win against the Pens next week, and all their remaining games for that matter. The last team I want to see dropping right now is Philly. “Avoid the Flyers at all costs.” is my playoff motto for Penguin success. Unless they’re dropping to 8th. In that case, by all means don’t just lose, Philly, but lose gloriously. Philly-Boston would be crazy. Any given cross-check and it could turn into a total melee. So could Pens-Philly for that matter, but those types of series are much more fun to watch as a third party. Being emotionally invested in a participating team is never really something I’d choose…..

    • dolanster - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:40 AM

      Likewise this Bruins fan would love to see the Pens have to get past the Flyers in round 1. Go Detroit! 😉

  3. jpelle82 - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    makes me want sutter to get top 6 minutes more often…along with some time on the #1 pp in front of the net. kunitz has been slacking there, give sutter a bump for a couple games..pump his tires, he deserves it.

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