Fleury back in the nets again tonight for Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH — So much for Henrik Lundqvist not being able to beat the Montreal Canadiens. Ditto with Marc-Andre Fleury’s most important games with the Pittsburgh Penguins being in his rearview mirror.
Welcome to the 2017 playoffs, same as it ever was for two goaltenders who know a thing or two about what it takes this time of year.
Lundqvist turned aside all 31 shots he saw in New York’s 2-0 victory over Montreal on Wednesday night to beat the Canadiens for the first time this season as the Rangers stole home ice with a 2-0 Game 1 victory.
Fleury made 31 saves of his own Pittsburgh’s 3-1 triumph in its series opener against Columbus after being thrust into the lineup minutes before the opening faceoff when Matt Murray suffered a lower-body injury during warmups.
Tonight, Lundqvist and Fleury — they of the combined 228 career playoff appearances — can give their teams 2-0 leads in their respective series if they can summon a bit of the old magic once again.
Murray skipped practice on Thursday and is out indefinitely, meaning Fleury will make consecutive postseason starts for the first time 2015. He lost his starting job this season to Murray, who helped the Penguins to a fourth Stanley Cup last spring when Fleury went down late in the regular season with a concussion.
A year later, the roles have suddenly reversed. Not that Fleury wants to think about it. He spent all season dealing with talk about his imminent departure only to stick with the only team NHL team he’s ever known. Now the Penguins need him as much as ever with Game 2 coming up tonight.
“Playoffs are long and a lot can happen,” Fleury said. “Like anybody else on a team, everybody has to stay sharp through the process.”