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Fleury Turns Table On Halak, Leads Pens In Game 3 Shutout

May 4, 2010 – 9:55 PM
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Adam Gretz

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After backstopping the Penguins to a Stanley Cup last season, a lot of people -- including myself -- were expecting Marc-Andre Fleury to take a major step forward in his own personal development this year. For much of the season, it didn't really happen as his play was often times up-and-down, and his overall numbers reflected it. Tuesday night, as it turned out, was one of the "up" performances for Fleury as he helped lead the Penguins to a 2-0 win in Montreal in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal, taking a 2-1 lead in the series. It was the first time that Montreal had been shutout at home in a playoff game since 1983.

As has been the case for much of the postseason, the Canadiens didn't generate many chances, finishing the game with just 18 shots on goal, and only 11 over the final two periods.

The few shots they did register, however, were quality looks.

Penguins lead series, 2-1
Penguins 2, Canadiens 0: Recap | Box Score | Series Page

Montreal dominated puck possession in the first period (owning a 7-3 edge in the shots department) but couldn't get anything past Fleury. He was even better in the third period as the Penguins were nursing a 1-0 lead, making a point-blank stop on a Tomas Plekanec re-direct, and also stretching across to get his pad on a Mike Cammalleri one-timer from the slot. They proved to be same-saving stops as Fleury recorded his second shutout of the season, and his first since March 18.

The save on Plekanec, which was probably his best stop of the postseason to this point, came on a Montreal power play with less than five minutes to play after Jordan Leopold was sent off for tripping. Plekanec was wide open in front of the net and re-directed a pass that was perfectly placed on his stick.

For the first two periods, Jaroslav Halak matched him save-for-save, turning aside 14 shots in the second period alone.

The Penguins finally broke through in the early moments of the third period when Evgeni Malkin unleashed a booming shot from just beyond the right faceoff circle, beating Halak through a screen that was provided by Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. It was one of the few times in this series -- or in Montreal's first 10 playoff games, for that matter -- that Halak didn't get a clean look at a shot.

Malkin, scoring for the first time in four games, had been under some criticism in Pittsburgh earlier in the week for not providing enough offense or being the type of game-changing player he was in last year's playoffs, even though he was still averaging over a point-per-game through the Penguins' first eight postseason games. His goal on Tuesday was his fifth of the playoffs. Pascal Dupuis added an empty-net goal with 15 seconds to play to give the Penguins some insurance.

Montreal, once again, managed to keep the play to the perimeter -- despite spending most of the game in its own zone -- and allowed the Penguins to take all the long-range shots they wanted. For the most part, it worked, as the Habs allowed just one goal with Halak in net, but couldn't find a way to help him offensively.

Cammalleri was their most dangerous player in the offensive zone most of the night, finishing with four shots on goal, including a great look in the first period when he danced around Mark Eaton at the blue and walked in alone on Fleury, only to have the Penguins goaltender get just enough of the shot to deflect it wide.
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