NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets

Fleury’s ‘great performance’ sets Pittsburgh franchise record


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.”

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.