My Name Is Marc-Andre Fleury, and I Am an Elite NHL Goaltender
The score in this series should read: Detroit 3, Pittsburgh 1, Marc-Andre Fleury 1.
Right off the bat, I want to get something off my chest. Watching Penguins coach Michel Therrien after the game, I was surprised he wasn't discussing the goaltender diving and the obstruction that wasn't being called during the overtime periods.
Oh, that's right, because his goaltender was the one diving, drawing calls, and his players were the ones obstructing.
I don't want to be the guy that hangs the opposing team's victory on excuses (see Michel Therrien's Game 2 press conference). I just wanted to get that out of the way.
Back to what I was saying. Marc-Andre Fleury faced 58 shots. The incessant onslaught of Red Wings offensive pressure lasted for the majority of the first two overtime sessions. His toe save on Mikael Samuelsson's one-timer off a pass from Johan Franzen was incredible.
He had two glove saves in particular where they both could have and probably should have gone in, but they were ripped out of the air by Fleury. He played the game of his life, and he played the game of his life when the Penguins needed it most.
While Detroit came back down 2-0 after the first period, and eventually took a 3-2 lead, Fleury stayed strong for the most part. With Maxime Talbot scoring the tying goal with 35 seconds left by blinding whacking at it for a solid seven seconds, everything changed. That took the Stanley Cup back up the ramp and into the room it had been sitting in the entire night.
Let's make no mistake about it. Detroit came out flat in the first period, and Pittsburgh took advantage. The Penguins outplayed the Red Wings in the first period, but from then on, it was a different game.
The Red Wings came back and scored one in the second, and two more in the third to take the lead. Talbot eventually scored to knot the game at three each and send the game to overtime.
It seemed like it really hit the Red Wings what was at stake in overtime, and they controlled the play for 30 of the 40 minutes of the first two overtimes, and I think I'm being generous giving Pittsburgh 10 full minutes. I probably thought the Wings were going to score seven or eight different times if it had not been for Fleury making some sort of ridiculous save.
Fleury joined a class of goaltenders in the NHL with that performance. Goaltenders like Brodeur, Nabokov, Osgood, Turco, Luongo, DiPietro who are in the top of their class. Hats off to Marc-Andre Fleury for singlehandedly winning this game.
Petr Sykora tapped the glass where Pierre McGuire stands during the play and told him he was going to score, and oddly enough he eventually scored the game-winner which was assisted by Evgeni Malkin and the referee, whom the puck deflected off going right to Malkin, which disoriented everyone but Malkin who saw the puck the entire time.
Sykora scored a goal scorer's goal, a high glove to win the game. Osgood got a piece of it, and although he had also come up big in Game Five several times, the one the Red Wings needed most slipped by him.
However, I can comfortably say that Detroit is going to win this series. I had originally called they would win in six games and finish the series in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. It took Pittsburgh six periods to accomplish what Detroit has done in three periods, three times.
That win was deflating for the Red Wings, and that same wind is behind the sails of the Penguins now. But Penguins can't fly. Detroit will come back and win in Pittsburgh. Mark it down, front page, back page, middle page, any page. The Detroit Red Wings will win this series in six games.
But whatever way you spin it, this was Marc-Andre Fleury's official coming out party. Welcome to an elite group of NHL goaltenders, kid. You earned it, that's for damn sure.
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