PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins won in a shootout for the fourth consecutive game Sunday afternoon.
Alex Kovalev and James Neal scored in the shootout, while Fleury stopped the only two shooters he faced to beat the Florida Panthers 2-1.
The Penguins were largely outplayed in the game by a Panther team whose playoff hopes were dashed some time ago.
Before the game, the team announced its yearly awards. Fleury was named as the team’s Most Valuable Player and he showed why against Florida.
He was tested early and often in the game and finished with 37 saves. His shutout streak was snapped in the second period on a deflection goal by Ryan Carter at 15:32.
Fleury’s shutout streak of 150:14 set a franchise record that was previously held by Jocelyn Thibault (137:13.).
The Panthers’ goal seemed to wake the Penguins up and they wasted no time to tie the game.
Ben Lovejoy stepped out from the corner to the left of Tomas Vokoun and fired a shot between the goaltender’s arm and body at 17:49 for his third goal of the season.
Despite a better third period effort, Vokoun stopped all 11 shots he faced to force overtime.
However, Vokoun left the game after the third period for an undisclosed reason. He was replaced by Scott Clemmensen, who had to make four stops in the extra session.
After Kris Letang and Mike Santorelli were denied in the first round of the shootout, Kovalev beat Clemmensen with a nifty move to the forehand to put the Penguins ahead.
Niclas Bergfors moved in on Fleury and tried to surprise him with a quick shot. Fleury was able to knock the puck away with his blocker, which set the stage for more shootout heroics for Neal.
Neal closed in on Clemmensen with speed and ripped a wrist shot over the blocker to clinch the win for the Penguins.
Earlier in the week, Neal scored the lone goal in shootouts against the Detroit Red Wings and New Jersey Devils.
The win moves the Penguins within two points of the Philadelphia Flyers for the Atlantic Division lead.
They’ll have a chance to pull even on Tuesday night when the Penguins and Flyers meet for the final time in the regular season.