Unless you are Martin Biron or Jose Theodore, you have heard people say that a goaltender can “steal a game.” When it happens on the road, it’s a big deal.
When it happens in the playoffs, it’s an even bigger deal.
When it happens on the road in the playoffs in a pivotal game four of a best-of-seven game series, it’s huge.
Marc-Andre Fleury turned in that kind of huge performance in Philthadelphia during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
The Flower turned in a 45 save effort to lead the Penguins to a 3-1 victory and give them the opportunity to close out the series with a win on Thursday night in front of their home crowd in Pittsburgh.
The only deterrent to a shutout for Fleury, of which he had two during last season’s push to the Stanley Cup Finals, was a third period goal by Daniel Carjokeo.
The Penguins didn’t play particularly well in Game Four. They were out shot, out hit, and largely out played by the Flyers.
Whether or not they, as a team, played better than the Flyers is debatable, but such a debate would be pointless considering they came out victorious in the game.
The point is, Game Four showed us that the Penguins can pick up a big win in a sub par overall team effort, and one man can be responsible for such a win: Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury showed his usual flashes of brilliance during the game, making the sprawling saves, stretching his leg pads post-to-post, and even losing his lid while thwarting a crease-crashing effort by the Flyers to even the game at two late in the third.
However, his rebound control and vision of the puck were perhaps more impressive than his patented Superman-like saves.
The Flyers had little to no second chance opportunities, which is a reflection of Fleury’s rebound control, but also the solid play of his defensemen in front of the net.
Sergei Gonchar, who was a minus-3 in Game Three, turned his fortunes around by playing exceptionally well in front of the net and showing the veteran responsibility that was absent on the Penguins’ blue line for much of the regular season.
Sidney Crosby, who apparently “sucks” in Philthadelphia, lived up to his reputation of scoring big goals in big games when he drove the net hard and directed a cross-ice pass from Chris Kunitz past French Toast to open the scoring in the game.
It is mind-boggling that Flyers’ fans waste so much time, energy, and opportunities to energize their own team by engaging in a chant of “Crosby sucks,” which is directed by their repetitively dull and predictable organist.
Vince Lascheid likely rolled over in his grave while listening to the joke at the Wachovia Center playing the same two melodies over and over for 60 minutes.
Chanting is a big part of crowd participation at hockey games, but Philthadelphia, who plays rap music during their pre-game warmups, takes the chanting to a puzzling new level.
Let’s forget supporting our own team in their efforts to erase a two goal deficit and direct an overwhelming majority of our collect voice as fans toward trying to get inside the head of a guy who has been owning us in the playoffs and regular season for the past three years.
Welcome to Philadelphia.
Tyler Kennedy, who has been playing some unreal hockey during this season on the Penguins’ third line, scored his second goal of this post-season, and the second playoff goal of his career, after taking a great pass from Matt Cooke and beating the Toast to make it 2-0 Pens.
The Flyers pushed hard for rest of the game, but Fleury stood tall.
The Carcillo goal aside, the Flower turned away every shot the Flyers threw at him and Max Talbot added an empty netter in the dying seconds of the game to give the Pens a 3-1 lead in the game, and the series.
Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left Philthadelphia.
Game Five will commence on Thursday night in Pittsburgh, where the Pens will look to dispose of the Flyers in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
How Daniel Briere is still a member of an NHL roster is unfathomable. For a guy who, at least at one time in his career, was considered an elite NHL talent and one of the best clutch performers in the game, he has been overshadowed by guys like Darroll Powe and Claude Giroux.