For more than a week, Henrik Lundqvist and Marc-Andre Fleury have stood 200 feet apart, and toe-to-toe.
"I knew halfway through the game that there's not going to be much," Lundqvist said. "He played really well. He kept them in this one. As a goalie, it's important to try to take care of your own business. If I get too involved in what's going on in front of me, it's all over."
A series that began with onlookers talking about the firepower of guys such as Rick Nash and Derick Brassard, or Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, was quickly defined by the extinguishing power of two of the best goalies in the game. Friday night, the staring contest ended for good, as Fleury, who had trailed Lundqvist all series, blinked finally and decisively, allowing an overtime goal to Carl Hagelin as the Rangers took the deciding Game 5, 2-1.
All four Rangers victories in the series were decided by that score, with two going to overtime. Lundqvist had 37 saves and Fleury had 34. "With all those 2-1 games, it's a fine line with who loses -- a bounce here and a bounce there," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said.
"You definitely saw a great goaltending display on both ends," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. "At the beginning of the second, we had five [big] chances and Fleury stopped them all."
Fleury withstood an early and steady Rangers onslaught and, at times, singlehandedly carried his team out of the doldrums. Down by a goal 13:37 into the second period, he stopped a tip-in attempt by Derek Stepan and then went man-to-man with an unwavering Martin St. Louis -- who crashed the net and had not one, not two, but three shots in a 10-second span before Fleury was able to smother the puck and end the threat.
Four minutes later, Nick Spaling managed to solve Lundqvist.
It was just the latest chapter in a personal postseason battle for the duo.
Lundqvist entered the game with a 1.74 goals-against average in four playoff games, and Fleury was at 2.24 behind his penalty-afflicted team.