After making a last-minute gaffe in game four that cost the the Pittsburgh Penguins a win and a would-be 3-2 series lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets, goaltender Marc Andre Fleury bounced back strong in game five, stopping 24 of 25 shots en route to a 3-1 Penguins victory.
Pittsburgh played their best overall game of the series, tightening things down defensively, and doing what neither team had been able to do so far: hold a lead.
After giving up a power-play goal to Boone Jenner late in the first period, the Pens stayed resilient, eventually rallying to score two straight goals before Kris Letang netted an empty-netter to ice the game with a little over a minute left to play.
Like I said before, this win has got to restore at least a little bit of faith in Fleury, who bounced back after a tough break in game four with his best performance of the series in game five.
And while it’s still to early to say for sure, it’s hard to not at least notice a difference with how Fleury has handled himself this playoff year.
In year’s past, giving up a backbreaking goal like the one he let up to Columbus would have meant an implosion in net for Flower next game.
However, it seems that Fleury, who has arguably been Pittsburgh’s most valuable player this year, has begun taking adversity in stride, learning from it instead of getting down on him self and coming out worse off.
That said, the fear of another brain cramp like the one he had in game four still looms large in the minds of many Penguins fans, as well it should. However, it seems that this edition of the Flower is better equipped to handle the pressure and occasional failure than the MAF we have seen in year’s past.
And now that Fleury has his mojo (at least temporarily) back in check, the Penguins need to focus on playing a tighter defensive scheme in support.
The Penguins still don’t strike me as a team capable of a deep playoff run, but for the first time in close to three years I feel confident in saying that if and when the Penguins lose, Marc Andre-Fleury will not be to blame.