PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) — On a night when Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 30 Montreal shots — some in spectacular fashion — he came one save short of defeating the Canadiens Tuesday in a 3-2 loss.
After Pittsburgh hit two posts in an eight-round shootout, Tomas Plekanec fired a puck past Fleury for a 3-2 advantage. Jason Williams came on as the Penguins eighth shooter and slipped a puck five hole on Montreal goaltender Carey Price, but he was able to squeeze his feet together and stop the puck to end the game.
“Basically, Flower has been saving us all year,” Penguins forward Pascal Dupuis said.
Fleury was strong in goal all night and helped the team force overtime. However, it was his lone gaffe that changed the complexion of the game.
After Joe Vitale threw a puck that bounced off Dupuis’ skate and in to tie the game, Montreal forward Lars Eller swung down the left wing and threw a puck deep into the Penguins zone. Fleury, expecting the puck to go into the corner, took a step one way before realizing Eller’s dump was on net.
Fleury’s split-second mistake was too much to overcome and the puck slipped past him and inside the far post for a 2-1 Canadiens lead with 17 minutes left in regulation.
Evgeni Malkin found James Neal in front for his 28th goal of the season — a career high — less than five minutes later to tie the game, 2-2, but the Pens couldn’t manage another tally the rest of the way.
“It’s a good point, but there’s just areas of our game that we need to clean up,” Neal said. “But ‘Flower’ was great again. Huge saves at the right times. It’s tough when you don’t pull one out in the shootout for him, because he made some great saves.”
Montreal held a 1-0 lead after the first period on a goal Louis Leblanc midway through the first period.
Price stopped 32 of 34 Pittsburgh shots in the game. Fleury stopped 28 of 30 shots.
“We did come back and tie it up, had some chances to win in overtime,” Dupuis said. “We got some chances in the shootout. Hit the post there, too, (which would have) won it but it doesn’t go in. They come back and they win. It’s unfortunate.”