Fleury’s ‘great performance’ sets Pittsburgh franchise record

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Paul Martin called it a “great performance.”

Matt Niskanen said it was “the best I’ve seen him play.”

And according to Elias, it’s never been done before.

All of the above came after Marc-Andre Fleury’s 35-save shutout in Game 3 of Pittsburgh’s second-round series against the Rangers. The clean sheet came on the heels of another — a 22-save blanking in Game 2 — which put Fleury in the record books, becoming the first-ever Penguins netminder to record consecutive shutouts in the playoffs.

Here’s more, from the Tribune-Review:

Just like in Game 2, Fleury was forced to contend with three consecutive New York power plays early on Monday. Although the Rangers are struggling mightily on the power play, they fired 10 shots at Fleury while with the man advantage.

He stood tall.

“He was obviously our best penalty killer tonight,” Adams said.

Fleury possessed a little bit of luck, too. Right wing Martin St. Louis hit the post while on the power play, and center Mats Zuccarello hit the crossbar on a play that was ultimately reviewed before being called no call. Fleury said the post and crossbar were his “good friends” on this night.

The rest of the Penguins weren’t buying any talk about luck.

“I’ve seen it since the beginning of the season,” defenseman Kris Letang said. “I’ve just felt so comfortable with him and the way he’s been playing. He was great tonight.”

Fleury has suddenly become a very compelling story, but now it’s for good play rather than poor. While his first-round struggles against Columbus were well-documented, his ability to rebound since the biggest gaffe — the 4-3 OT loss in Game 4 — has been most impressive. Fleury’s stopped 128 of 135 shots since then, good for a .948 save percentage, and has posted a 4-1 record.

Pretty solid efforts. So solid, in fact, that they drew praise from the opposition’s head coach.

“Marc-Andre Fleury is a good goalie,” Alain Vigneault said, per the Tribune-Review. “He’s won a Stanley Cup, been to two Finals.

“He’s one of the best in the league.”

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”