Fleury makes late start, Penguins rush by Blue Jackets 3-1

Apr 15, 2017, 02:28
Fleury makes late start, Penguins rush by Blue Jackets 3-1

The Columbus Blue Jackets are back in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2014 after their best season in franchise history.

Fleury is no stranger to post-season hockey - it was his 99th career playoff start - winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 and again as a backup to Murray a year ago.

But whatever Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said to his players after the first period got them jazzed and raring to go to start the second period. Fleury was 15-7-5 with a.906 save percentage and 3.16 GAA in 30 games, 27 starts, before the trade deadline.

Above, we have highlights from the game via YouTube User SAP's Highlights. The second period was all Penguins but in the third, as expected when trailing at that point, Columbus was throwing everything at the net.

The Penguins weren't flawless in Game 1, but they did what they had to do to pick up a win.

"We have to find a way to change that trend", Crosby said.

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Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby waits for the puck drop between plays against the New Jersey Devils during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, April 6, 2017, in Newark, N.J.

After overwhelming the Penguins at the start, Columbus managed just 16 shots over the final two periods and never really came close to threatening as a matchup between the teams that finished with the second and fourth best records in the National Hockey League looked one-sided.

"It felt like it's been awhile", Fleury said. "I said to these guys all along, 'I need both of you.' It's just the way the game is". With goaltenders, especially in this unique situation where the Penguins have two legitimate starters, it's best to ride the hot hand as long as you can. "I think they'd be happy with getting one (of the first two in Pittsburgh)".

Apparently those in charge of statistics at Nationwide Arena follow a different definition, as the two regular-season games there included 27 and 41 hits. "We're going to expect the exact same thing or more", Allen said.

The good news for Pittsburgh is that the guy coaching the Blue Jackets is not likely to focus on the right things to beat the Penguins. Because, if we're being honest, had Murray gone down with Jarry as the sole netminder available to spell the Penguins young No. 1, Pittsburgh's title defense might not have ended up being much of a defense at all. If we can take one game going back home, that means you're in the driver's seat. Overall, the Penguins did a good job of keeping those shots outside, mainly from the perimeter and out of prime scoring areas but the Blue Jackets still managed a few great opportunities.