Fleury Helps Steal a Point in Dismal Opener

The Pittsburgh Penguins came out blazing early in the first period and then utterly collapsed with the exception of goaltending through the following two periods plus overtime.  The New Jersey Devils peppered the Penguins with 49 shots on goal, while the Penguins managed just 15 of their own, 8 of which were in the first period.  Marc-Andre Fleury was on fire for the Penguins, and was solely responsible for the point that the Penguins managed to get in the 2-1 overtime loss to the Devils.  Extremely efficient in net, Fleury was pitching a shutout until the Devils got a lucky bounce of the puck off from Hal Gill’s skate and into the Penguins’ net. 

In the first period, things were looking up as the Penguins powerplay connected on their first man advantage of the night.  Miroslav Satan scored his first goal in a Penguin uniform on the powerplay as he collected a rebound and put it past Martin Brodeur to make it 1-0.  The Penguins cracked their powerplay woes by putting Evgeni Malkin and his blistering shot at the blueline in the place of a missing Sergei Gonchar.  Malkin unleashed a heavy shot through traffic that resulted in a scrum near the paint that Satan converted on.  Along with Malkin, Jordan Staal was credited with an assist on the play.  Eric Godard and Mike Rupp went for a dance early in the period that ended without too much action.  At the end of the period, Patrick Elias was given a roughing minor for some after the buzzer action near the Penguins net.  The Penguins were outshot 10-8 in the 1st period, but were 1-for-2 on the powerplay and had no penalty kill time.  The Penguins looked aggressive in the first and did a tremendous job of moving the puck up the ice.

Despite getting the early power play in the 2nd, the Penguins came out extremely flat and gave the Devils a chance to find their offensive game.  At 6:42, Hal Gill and David Clarkson squared off and walked away with fighting majors.  Despite being vastly outsized, Clarkson held his own with neither side really getting in any significant licks.  The Devils proceeded to outshoot the Penguins 15-4 in the 2nd period team, dominating the play and taking the Penguins largely out of the game.  The Penguins finished the period 0-for-1 on the powerplay and 2-for-2 on the Penalty Kill. 

Through the third period and despite the Penguins horrendous play, Marc-Andre Fleury continued to be very strong in net and it looked as if they might steal a win.  However, at 17:31 Patrick Elias centered a puck from the sideboards that deflected off from Hal Gill’s skate and into the far side of the net past Fleury.  The goal was unassisted.  Although it was a lucky bounce, it was a reward for the Devils hard work through the 2nd and 3rd periods.  The Penguins hung on by a thread in the 3rd period as the Devils outshot them by a punishing 20-2.  The Penguins did manage to kill off 2-penalties in the 3rd, but were afforded no powerplay opportunities. 

In the overtime period, it looked as if the Penguins might get a chance to redeem themselves in a shootout.  However, with 38 seconds left in overtime and the Penguins working a 3-on-2 break, Travis Zajac came up with the puck and made a long lead pass to Zach Parise, who streaked down the left-wing boards and beat Fleury for the game winner.  The Devils outshot the Penguins 4-1 in the OT period. 

The only other side note to tonight’s game was the fact that Darryl Sydor played left wing on the 4th line as Michel Therrien played Gill, Eaton, Orpik, Scuderi, Letang and Goligoski on Defense.  The Penguins will get a couple days off to recoup before taking on the Philadelphia Flyers at Mellon Arena on Tuesday night.

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