44° Good Morning
44° Good Morning

Marc-Andre Fleury has become a pillar in goal for Pittsburgh

Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins covers

Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins covers the puck in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New York Rangers during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 22, 2015 in Pittsburgh. Credit: Getty Images / Justin K. Aller

PITTSBURGH - Henrik Lundqvist played in his 96th career NHL playoff game Wednesday night, an impressive total that ranks second among active goaltenders.

But the man in the opposite net for Game 4 of the Penguins-Rangers series ranks first.

Marc-Andre Fleury started his 97th postseason game at CONSOL Energy Center, and did so with his team leaning on him more than usual.

That is because the Penguins are not the high-flying offense they used to be, and because injuries have forced them to use a rotating cast of defensemen.

"He always gives us a chance to win," Patric Hornqvist said.

That he did again in Game 4, but it was not enough as the Rangers won their third 2-1 game of the series, this one in overtime, when Kevin Hayes scored 3:14 in.

It ended for Fleury with him helpless and on his back as Carl Hagelin got the puck under him to Hayes.

Fleury said afterward he knew the puck had slid beneath him. "I felt it go through under my armpit," he said. "It's disappointing. We played a solid game."

Fleury's work night got off to a slow start. The Rangers finished the first period with only two shots. But the Rangers' pace picked up in the second, forcing Fleury to make challenging saves.

The Rangers finally got to him with 2:45 left in the second when Fleury saved Derick Brassard's shot with his pad but Brassard shoved home the rebound.

Fleury has had plenty of ups and downs, including a Stanley Cup in 2009 and some lackluster playoff performances in the years after that. Now he is a pillar on a team that is in flux.

"He's been on our MVP since I got here," said Ben Lovejoy. "He's made the difficult save, he's made the routine save. When the defense or the forwards have put him in a tough situation and he has given up a goal -- and I don't think any of them have been his fault -- he's responded right away."

Fleury, whose nickname is "Flower," is a laid-back sort who seems to be taking playoff pressure in stride.

Coach Mike Johnston said before Game 4, "Flower has been good all year. I just like the way he looks so calm in the playoff series so far. There's never been a situation, even on a power play or a surge with the crowd in New York, where Flower looks rattled or out of sorts."

Now he will have to maintain his poise in the toughest of circumstances: a game at the Garden Friday in which the Rangers will have a chance to clinch the series.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

New York Sports