Fleury makes late start, Penguins rush by Blue Jackets 3-1

15 April, 2017, 02:32 | Author: Douglas Reid

Marc-Andre Fleury saved 31 of the 32 shots he faced. It's believed Murray re-aggravated a groin injury suffered late in the regular season, and it's serious enough to keep him out of the lineup entirely - Fleury will start tonight's Game 2, with AHL recall Tristan Jarry serving as the backup. He came onto the ice for warmups, but left with several minutes left in the pregame session after consulting with a team medical trainer.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan had declared him the starter for Wednesday's game following the morning skate.

Fleury had his best stretch after the deadline, going 3-3-2 with a.923 save percentage and 2.55 goals-against average in eight games, including seven starts from March 1 to the end of the season. Defensively, the Columbus Blue Jackets are allowing 2.4 goals per game and are killing 82.5 percent of their opponents power plays. The Penguins took the season series with a record of 2-1-1 and finished just ahead of Columbus in the standings with 111 points at the conclusion of the regular season. With much of the Blue Jackets top defensemen focusing on Crosby and the top line, Malkin has a chance to be the Penguins' best player throughout this series.

Columbus enters Game 2 at 2-9 all-time in the playoffs and 1-5 on the road. But an assist here and a goal there, a couple more here and there, and a point a game against Toronto's bottom-of-the-NHL defense is realistic.

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"The fact that we have (Fleury) and Matt, I think, gives us a comfort level because we know they're both No. 1 goalies", Sullivan said. "I was a little nervous at the beginning maybe from not expecting it".

ABOUT THE PENGUINS (50-21-11): Pittsburgh's postseason success could greatly hinge on the health of former Hart Trophy victor Evgeni Malkin (33 goals, 39 assists), who is expected to return Wednesday from a 13-game absence due to an upper-body injury. For a long stretch at the start, they weren't. Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert, for instance, needed 36 stitches after getting hit in the forehead by a slap shot in November.

The good news for Pittsburgh is that the guy coaching the Blue Jackets is not likely to focus on the right things to beat the Penguins. Bryan Rust and Trevor Daley did not practice on Thursday, which raised questions about their availability.

Assuming the blood didn't run into his eyes, he was able to see the Pens hang on for a 3-1 win. "He seemed to carry himself in such a professional way with humility and (as) a selfless man, and I think we can all learn from his legacy". Columbus did a lot of nice things last night. Russell Westbrook got an MVP endorsement from Oscar Robertson before the game, but the Thunder guard only played the first half of Oklahoma City's 111-105 loss to Denver.

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