New Castle News

Penguins

October 4, 2013

Penguins Hockey: Crosby, Fleury lead Pittsburgh past Devils

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins stuck with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury in the offseason, convinced two straight playoff meltdowns have not robbed the former Stanley Cup winner of his confidence.

The early returns are promising.

Fleury stopped 28 shots for his 250th NHL victory and franchise-record 24th shutout in Pittsburgh’s 3-0 season-opening win over New Jersey last night.

It was the kind of vintage performance the Penguins expect to rely on regularly as they take aim at another championship.

“We believe in (Fleury),” star forward Sidney Crosby said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt in here. He made some great saves. We probably made him work harder than he needed to at the end, but there were some beauties.”

Crosby and newcomer Chuck Kobasew scored four minutes apart in the first period and Craig Adams scored a rare goal in the third in his 800th career game for Pittsburgh, who toned down their high-octane offense for a more disciplined approach.

The Penguins — the NHL’s highest scoring team each of the last two seasons — took just 21 shots, including nine over the final two periods.

“I love the way our team played defense,” Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. “The penalty kill was big the two times it had to be and ... Marc made some big saves late.”

Perhaps none more impressive than a behind-the-back stop on New Jersey’s Travis Zajac with less than eight minutes to play. Zajac fired a shot from the left circle that clanged off the post and crawled up Fleury’s back. He managed to hit his glove on it to preserve a three-goal lead.

“I tried to reach as quickly as possible,” Fleury said. “I learned it from watching the (Pittsburgh) Pirates, I guess.”

Cory Schneider made 18 saves for the Devils. Schneider’s start marked the first time in 19 years Martin Brodeur didn’t play in the season opener for New Jersey. Brodeur is expected to start today at home against the New York Islanders.

“It’s tough to get down against a team like that and claw back,” Schneider said. “We had some chances, but Fleury made some big saves.”

Rather than head in a different direction after a disappointing four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals last spring, the Penguins fortified the core that has been together for five occasionally brilliant seasons.

Pittsburgh signed stars Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang to long-term extensions, brought back Pascal Dupuis, and added two years to Bylsma’s contract.

The only alterations to the roster were minor. Defenseman Rob Scuderi returned to Pittsburgh four years after helping them win the franchise’s third Stanley Cup title. Kobasew earned a spot following a solid training camp, and 19-year-old rookie Olli Maatta did enough to stick around — at least for a bit — while Letang recovers from a lower-body injury.

Kobasew wasted little time making an impact, scoring 9:26 into the season when he jammed in a rebound of Brandon Sutter’s shot.

Crosby doubled the lead a few minutes later when he and Dupuis created a two-on-one. When a New Jersey defenseman slid over to cover Dupuis, Crosby wristed a shot past Schneider’s glove.

“It’s a tough play when a guy is moving laterally like that, especially a guy like him,” Schneider said. “You try to take away as much as you can. It was just over the glove.”

It was all the insurance Fleury would need. The Penguins stayed with the former No. 1 pick for this season, believing he and veteran Tomas Vokoun would make up the best tandem in the league.

But that duo will be split up for at least three months as Vokoun recovers from blood clots discovered early in training camp. The injury leaves rookie Jeff Zatkoff as the lone backup, meaning Fleury will almost certainly be a workhorse while Vokoun recovers.

That is fine by Fleury, who is only too happy to put the recent past firmly in the rearview mirror.

“I’m glad it was finally a real game,” Fleury said. “I thought the guys played great. A couple of bounces here and there, and there you go.”

While the Penguins stood pat in the offseason, things are hardly as settled in New Jersey, which failed to make the playoffs last season for only the third time in 23 seasons.

David Blitzer and Joshua Harris took over as owners of the financially troubled franchise in August, and Schneider was acquired in a trade with Vancouver to take some of the workload off the 41-year-old Brodeur.

The Devils also brought in well-traveled forward Jaromir Jagr, taken 15 spots ahead of Brodeur in the 1990 NHL draft, four years before Maatta was born.

Despite controlling play at times over the final two periods, New Jersey couldn’t solve a goaltender — and a team — determined to prove it can play defense.

“It was one of those nights, the puck didn’t go in,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “We’ve got to find a way to put some in the back of the net.”

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Penguins
  • Pens_Coach.tiff NHL Hockey: Penguins hire Mike Johnston as coach

    The Pittsburgh Penguins have insisted during their extensive front office overhaul that the on-ice product doesn’t need to change much for the franchise to return to the NHL’s elite. Small tweaks, not big ones, are required.

    June 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg Penguins fire Bylsma, hire Rutherford as GM

    Jim Rutherford doesn’t believe the Pittsburgh Penguins need to undergo a massive overhaul to regain their spot among the NHL’s elite.

    June 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • ray-shero.jpg NHL Hockey: Penguins fire general manager Ray Shero

    The Pittsburgh Penguins hired Ray Shero as general manager eight years ago with the mandate to build a roster around two of the game’s brightest stars and turn ticker-tape parades through downtown into an annual rite of spring.

    May 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg NHL Playoffs: Rangers cap comeback, top Pens in Game 7

    New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault had trouble finding the words to describe goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. “He’s OK,” Vigneault said finally with a small shake of his head.

    May 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • NHL Playoffs: Malkin’s 3 goals power Pens to Game 6 clincher

    Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins finally flexed their offensive muscles. And they needed every bit of scoring they could muster. Malkin had a hat trick and the Penguins almost blew a four-goal lead before holding off the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 last night to clinch their first-round playoff series in six games

    April 29, 2014

  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Jokinen leads Pens past struggling Kings

    Jonathan Quick’s Olympic goaltending audition for U.S. national team coach Dan Bylsma ended after three Pittsburgh goals in one rocky period.

    January 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • NHL Hockey: Crosby lifts Pens past Vancouver

    Sidney Crosby tied the score late in regulation and added the only goal in a shootout to rally the Pittsburgh Penguins past the slumping Vancouver Canucks 5-4 last night.

    January 8, 2014

  • penguins.jpg Penguins rally by weary Winnipeg, 6-5

    Evgeni Malkin scored twice in his return from injury and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-5 on Sunday afternoon.

    January 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Bruins snap skid against Pens with OT win

    The surging Boston Bruins said they weren’t fazed by Sidney Crosby’s last-second goal. They proved it in overtime. Torey Krug scored 34 seconds into OT and the Bruins beat Pittsburgh 4-3 yesterday night, snapping a seven-game, regular-season losing streak to the Penguins in a matchup of the Eastern Conference’s top two teams.

    November 26, 2013 1 Photo

  • Pens.jpg NHL Hockey: Pens erupt in third to down Ducks

    When Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma shuffled the lines in search of a spark for his slumping offense, putting Evgeni Malkin and rookie Brian Gibbons on the ice together wasn’t what he had in mind. Still, he’ll take it.

    November 19, 2013 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

The film "Into the Storm," about a devastating tornado, opens nationally Aug. 1. What's your favorite storm movie?

Twister
The Day After Tomorrow
The Perfect Storm
Sharknado
     View Results