Fleury frustrates Rangers, Penguins grab 2-1 series lead

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Heading into Game 3, the big question was if a lack of rest would doom the New York Rangers. Instead, it came down to their inability to beat Marc-Andre Fleury — the Pittsburgh netminder posted a second consecutive shutout for a 2-0 Penguins win, and 2-1 series lead.

“Score effects” might account for some of the story (at least in the third period), but the shot totals would almost argue that the Rangers were the team with more lift in their legs. They carried a 35-15 shot advantage, yet they simply couldn’t solve “The Flower” tonight.

OK, the 29-year-old goalie got a little lucky at times, but there’s no denying his brilliance in Game 3:

In the process, Fleury pulled off a rare feat:

The Penguins’ offense was pretty quiet but took advantage of two breakaway opportunities as Sidney Crosby finally broke through and Jussi Jokinen scored the 2-0 insurance goal.

While the unit created plenty of opportunities, the Rangers’ power play still remains a conundrum. They’ve now gone eight straight playoff games without a goal and find themselves mired in an 0-for-34 slump.

The Rangers have to feel a little bit of grief in losing despite an impressive team performance in Game 3 and great work from Henrik Lundqvist in Game 2. (It’s difficult to beat up Lundqvist too much for allowing two breakaway goals tonight, either.)

Despite seeing a 1-0 series lead switch to a 2-1 deficit in two nights, the Rangers can at least hang their hats on a nice performance and will get the usual amount of rest with Game 4 on Wednesday.

That optimism will dim considerably if they can’t tie the series then, though.

Video: Fleury gives crossbar some love after near-goal

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As of this writing, Marc-Andre Fleury has been sensational in Game 3 and seems to be on a hot streak against the New York Rangers in general. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t been getting some luck, however.

Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello came oh-so-close to scoring what would have been a crucial goal for his team in an unlucky second period for the Blueshirts, but it was not to be. Afterward, Fleury thanked his crossbar in a way that evokes memories of other goalies (such as Patrick Roy and Peter Budaj in this video) showing appreciation for their posts over the years.

Check out this montage of some of Fleury’s best work from the first two periods of Monday’s game, which includes that little bit of affection between goalie and crossbar:

The NHL’s Situation Room Blog explains the no-goal in case it was needed:

At 8:02 of the second period in the Pittsburgh Penguins/New York Rangers game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Pittsburgh net. Video review determined that the puck hit the crossbar and did not cross the Pittsburgh goal line. No goal New York Rangers.

Video: Rangers beat Fleury on third shot of game

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It didn’t take long for the Rangers to notch the first goal of their series against Pittsburgh — and it didn’t take long for Marc-Andre Fleury to surrender his first questionable tally of the series, either.

Benoit Pouliot scored his third of the playoffs on New York’s third shot of the game at the 5:04 mark, giving the Blueshirts (granted, tonight they’re Whiteshirts) a 1-0 lead:

Just less than 12 minutes later, Brad Richards scored to make it 2-0 Rangers. We’ll have video of that one up shortly.

Fleury: Pens fans gave him a boost (and goosebumps)

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Pittsburgh Penguins fans might have booed Sidney Crosby during a portion of Game 5, but it sounds like they were supportive for the most part on Saturday. That seemed especially true for Marc-Andre Fleury, who sounded inspired after tonight’s 3-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Even with that confidence in mind, Fleury still isn’t cocky enough to risk leaving his net after that scarring Game 4 tying goal.

The 29-year-old stopped 23 out of 24 shots to help the Penguins take a 3-2 series lead. While there are plenty of people who probably still doubt the one-time Stanley Cup champion, it sounds like Mario Lemieux won’t need to console him for at least the next while.

Fleury and the Penguins have a chance to close out the Blue Jackets in Game 6 on Monday.

Video: Fleury defends decision to leave net before tying goal

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As you can see, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was a popular man today.

While it didn’t sound like he fully agreed with his coach’s assessment of the late tying goal he allowed versus the Blue Jackets in Game 4, it also didn’t sound like he wanted to start a war of words, practically pleading with reporters to move on from the subject. (“No more. Please.”)

In case you missed it yesterday, Dan Bylsma said, “Marc knows he should have stayed in the net.”

Here’s the goal again:

Game 5 of the Pittsburgh-Columbus series, tied 2-2, goes Saturday evening (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN) inside Consol Energy Center.