Penguins net another shootout win
Marc-Andre Fleury matched idol Martin Brodeur save for save through three periods. And overtime. And through two rounds of a shootout.
Fleury finally won with his third shootout save.
James Neal scored in the third round of a shootout and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Friday night in a game dominated by Fleury and Brodeur.
“He is a very competitive goalie and he wants to be the best in the league,” Penguins forward Jordan Staal said about Fleury. “Obviously, Brodeur is a future Hall of Famer, and ’Flower’ is up for those games.”
Fleury made 21 saves for his third shutout of the season and 19th of his career. He also stopped Brian Rolston, Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias in the shootout.
Brodeur extended his NHL shutout record to 116 with his sixth of the season. He made 26 saves and stopped Alexei Kovalev in the shootout. Kris Letang missed the net leading off the tiebreaker.
“I always think of it as more of a dual against their players than their goalie,” said Fleury, who grew up in Quebec a fan of fellow French-Canadian star Brodeur. “But it was fun, though.”
The Devils fell 10 points behind eighth-place Buffalo in the Eastern Conference, a scenario that led Kovalchuk to say, “I think we’re done.”
The Penguins, on the verge of clinching a playoff spot, moved within two points of idle Philadelphia in the race for both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference leads.
In the five games thus far in the season series between the teams, a total of 12 goals have been scored.
“That team is playing pretty much like we do in our end,” said Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, whose Devils rank eighth in the NHL in defense and last in goals for. Pittsburgh is seventh in goals-agaisnt average. “So there was not a lot of room, not a lot of scoring chances. That’s the way it was.”
The Devils played most of the second half of the game with only four defensemen after Colin White and Anton Volchenkov both sustained lower body injuries. Brodeur came in 8-1-0 with an 0.88 goals-against average in his previous nine starts against Pittsburgh. He improved that goals-against average while hurting his record. Brodeur has nine shutouts in his career against the Penguins — tied for second-most against any team.
The Penguins have won three straight games — all via shootout — improved to 8-2-2 in their past 12 and have won five of seven.