Pittsburgh Penguins: Fleury Keeps Penguins Stanley Cup Hopes Alive

Matthew SteinhiserContributor IJune 3, 2008

The Detroit Red Wings were less than one minute away from a Stanley Cup championship.

The Pittsburgh Penguins had other ideas.

Thanks to an incredible performance from Marc-Andre Fleury and a game winning goal from Petr Sykora in the third Overtime, the Penguins will host game 6 in Pittsburgh tomorrow night.

It's hard to believe the Penguins won the game. They simply got outplayed in the third period, which led to Detroit taking a 3-2 lead. They were out shot in the game 58 to 37. The Penguins appeared to be eliminated until Max Talbot scored with less than a minute to play, forcing overtime.

The Penguins played tough the entire game which was the reason they won. Pittsburgh's season was on the line and they responded with a gutsy performance.

But goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was the real reason the Penguins won the game.

Fleury played the game of his life. The Penguins were out shot the entire game and Fleury never shied away from the pressure. He kept making spectacular saves to keep the Penguins in the game and give his team a chance to win, which was exactly what he needed to do.

You could argue that the 3 goals the Red Wings scored in the second and third periods were goals that should have been stopped by Fleury.  However, once overtime started, he rose to the occasion and stopped everything that he needed to stop.

This isn't the first time Penguins fans have seen this type of performance from Fleury.

Go back to the Penguins home opener in 2003. Facing a Los Angeles Kings team that out shot the Penguins in that game too, Fleury turned in an amazing performance, stopping 46 of 48 shots, including a penalty shot in a 2-0 loss to the Kings. He was 18 years old.

The fact of the matter is simple. Marc-Andre Fleury should win the Conn Smythe award if the Penguins manage to somehow win the Stanley Cup.

Fleury is the only reason the Penguins will be playing game 6 in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, and he is their only hope for keeping the series alive. He has played like an MVP since game 3 and has been the Penguins biggest clutch performer in the Stanley Cup Finals.

If Fleury flops in game 6 or even game 7 (if the series goes that long) the Penguins season is over.

In Pittsburgh, the "flower" is blooming into a hero. Penguins fans are hoping he can be the hero of the Stanley Cup Finals and perhaps grow into the playoff MVP everyone expected him to be. For that to happen, Fleury will need to put the team on his shoulders and carry them to the championship.