Even for a goaltender nicknamed Flower, someone is always overdoing the bit about raining on his parade.
But with a brilliant third period in which he went from innocent bystander to game-saver with three ten-bell stops, he surely has stilled the braying voices about his save percentage -- he entered the game with the lowest among the remaining playoff starters -- and the generally middling quality of his spring.
"The criticism hasn't been coming from inside here," Penguins defenseman
"I think a lot of time (people) see goals ... (and, well) he's just an easy guy to pick out. I don't think he's played as well as he can play up until tonight, but I don't think he's played bad," said Oprik. "(Teams have scored) goals he he's had no chance on and second opportunities because we haven't been picking up guys."
The stops in this 18-save whitewash might be impossible to rank. Perhaps none of the holy trinity of stops joins the pantheon with the glove save Fleury made in tight on Washington's
From the end of the first period until 9½ minutes into the third, he had to make just four saves, which on most nights is a decent five minutes for Canadiens goalie
"A great performance from him tonight," Penguins coach
Setting aside any personal baggage that a Quebec goaltender like Fleury brings into any game against his boyhood team -- he grew up in Sorel, about an hour from Montreal -- the Canadiens are a difficult team to play. They play a style that is full bore, and not in the best sense of the in the word. As the estimable
The style came out of Inter-Milan in the 1960s and is known, in the language of calcio, as
The Canadiens defense pair of the pituitary
But Crosby was strong on both sides of the puck -- this separates him from many NHL stars -- and drew the decisive holding call against Gill later in the same shift to give Pittsburgh a power play and 1:49 of fresh ice to start the third period. The Penguins needed 76 seconds of it. Malkin, who won the Art Ross and Conn Smythe Trophies a year ago, let go a shot from perhaps 40 feet. With Crosby screening Halak, the shot slipped over Halak's left pad and glove to break the scoreless tie, not to mention the tedium. Then, in the final 10½ minutes, Fleury was obliged to awaken from his slumber. Deadbolt.