Jaroslav Halak

Goalie nods: Halak vs. Fleury in battle of All-Star replacements

All the latest from the blue paint…

Halak to face Fleury

Interesting sidebar to tonight’s Penguins-Islanders game at Nassau — Marc-Andre Fleury and Jaroslav Halak, named as replacement All-Stars for Pekka Rinne and Jimmy Howard yesterday, will square off in a key Metropolitan Division showdown.

The Isles head into tonight’s action one point up on the Pens, and much of that has to do with Halak’s play this year; he’s won nine of his last 11 starts and has been very good against Pittsburgh this season, posting a 1.52 GAA and .954 save percentage through two head-to-head matchups.

Fleury has been equally strong this season, especially against the Isles — he’s secured three of a possible four points with a 2.40 GAA and .929 save percentage.

Elsewhere…

Canucks at ‘Canes: Cam Ward for Carolina, no word yet on a Vancouver starter.

Rangers at Jackets: Henrik Lundqvist for New York, Sergei Bobrovsky likely for Columbus.

Caps at Preds: Braden Holtby vs. Carter Hutton

Jets at ‘Hawks: Corey Crawford for Chicago, no word yet on a Winnipeg starter.

Devils at Ducks: Cory Schneider vs. Ilya Bryzgalov

One more: Fleury to replace Rinne at ASG

Buffalo Sabres v Pittsburgh Penguins
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Busy morning on the All-Star goalie replacement front.

Shortly after the NHL announced Jaroslav Halak would fill in for the injured Jimmy Howard, it revealed that Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury would head to Columbus in place of Pekka Rinne, who’s sidelined with a knee sprain.

This will mark Fleury’s second All-Star Game appearance, and it is well deserved. The 30-year-old netminder has posted excellent statistics this season, ranking fourth in the NHL with 22 wins, sixth with a 2.16 goals-against average and seventh with a .926 save percentage. Fleury also leads the league in shutouts, with six.

So, to recap…your 2015 NHL All-Star Game goalies are now Fleury, Halak, Corey Crawford, Sergei Bobrovsky, Roberto Luongo and Carey Price.

Cue Washington fans expressing outrage that Braden Holtby wasn’t chosen as a replacement.

Bennett: It’s ‘crazy’ that Fleury didn’t make All-Star roster

Marc-Andre Fleury
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Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby thinks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had an All-Star worthy first half, but at the end of the day “you can’t take anything away from the guys who are there.”

Forward Beau Bennett was less diplomatic.

“That’s pretty crazy,” Bennett said of the snub, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Look at all the injuries we’ve had and the numbers he’s still put up. He deserves more recognition.”

There’s no question that Fleury has had a good year with his 21-7-4 record, 2.16 GAA, and .926 save percentage in 33 contests. In fact at this rate, 2014-15 might prove to be the best season of the 30-year-old’s career.

“For some reason, he goes under the radar,” Bennett said. “But we know what we’ve got in Flower. He’s one of the best goalies in the league. He came into this season with a vengeance. He’s been great.”

Fleury doesn’t fly under the radar as being the top goaltender on the Penguins lends itself to a lot of attention. His value has been a subject of hot debate due to his past shortcomings in the playoffs, but he was solid in Pittsburgh’s 2014 postseason run.

The netminder admitted that being left off the All-Star roster stung a bit.

“But that’s fine,” Fleury added. “I’ll get a few extra days to rest the body a little bit and come back fresh.”

He might not want to get too far ahead of himself though. While he wasn’t included on the initial roster, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard won’t be available and Fleury might end up being the one that takes his place.

Video: Lightning chase Fleury

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins takes a drink during the season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on January 19, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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Penguins’ starter Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled after allowing three Lightning goals on 10 shots tonight in Tampa Bay.

Nikita Kucherov’s goal 52 seconds into the second period, which gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead, chased Fleury.

Jeff Zatkoff has replaced Fleury.

Kopitar, Voracek, Fleury named NHL’s three stars of the week

Anze Kopitar
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Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar, Philly’s Jakub Voracek and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 21, the league announced on Monday.

The highlights:

Kopitar led the NHL with nine points and eight assists in three games, helping the Kings (17-11-6, 40 points) win two of three starts to maintain a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Voracek tied for second among all players with seven points (3-4—7) in four games to power the Flyers (13-14-6, 32 points) to five out of a possible eight standings points and vault into the top spot in NHL scoring.

Fleury went 3-0-0 with a 0.99 goals-against average, .971 save percentage and one shutout to help the Penguins (22-6-4, 48 points) record a trio of victories and maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

For Kopitar, last week was huge as it snapped him out of a terrible scoring slump. The 27-year-old had just 13 points through his first 28 games and a 10-game goalless drought from Nov. 18 to Dec. 11.