PITTSBURGH – It was another day at the office for the streaking Pittsburgh Penguins, but a historic one for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury stopped 23 shots to claim the team record for career shutouts as the Penguins won their eighth consecutive game, beating the New York Rangers 3-0 before 18,658 at Consol Energy Center Saturday afternoon.
Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis scored 43 seconds apart in the third period to wrap up the victory that allowed Fleury to break Tom Barrasso’s record with his 23rd shutout.
“It’s awesome,” Fleury said. “It took a little while to get it, but to get it at home is a great feeling.”
Fleury’s most recent shutout had been last Feb. 21, also against the Rangers. At 28, Fleury is already the Penguins’ career leader in victories in 241 victories.
In the last minute of play, fans were chanting Fleury’s name.
“It was great,” Fleury said. “That’s how it is when you play in Pittsburgh. The fan support is great.”
It hasn’t always been that way for Fleury, who is a frequent target for fan criticism. Part of that goes with the job since the goalie takes the blame for a lot of things that aren’t necessarily his fault.
That’s probably why Fleury is always so quick to credit teammates with helping him. After allowing 27 goals in six games (and winning four of them), the Penguins have given up just four goals in the last three games.
“The last few games everyone has tightened up,” Fleury said. “They’re more conscious in the defensive zone. We’ve been blocking shots and coming back and helping out.”
Fleury made a nice point-blank save against Rick Nash, and a shot by Carl Hagelin hugged the goal line before Fleury could cover it. Otherwise, it wasn’t it his toughest game.
“No, I don’t think it was, but I’ll take it,” Fleury said.
Fleury said he started thinking about a shutout after two periods but, “I didn’t want to jinx it. I was touching wood.”
He celebrated the milestone by tossing his stick to fans who stayed in the stands as he did a TV interview on the ice after the game.
“He doesn’t need shutouts or records to know he’s our go-to guy,” Dupuis said.
The Penguins didn’t need a third-period comeback this time. The last two goals just made the lead more comfortable.
Stragglers from the St. Patrick’s Day parade may have missed the first goal.
Beau Bennett scored his second NHL goal 90 seconds into the game. Bennett ripped a shot past Henrik Lundqvist from the left circle after getting the puck from Dustin Jeffrey.
That was the only scoring until the Penguins’ quick outburst in the third period. Kennedy, playing with the second power-play unit, put a shot in off the goal post at 6:34. Kennedy set up the power play by drawing a holding penalty by defenseman Anton Stralman.
Jeffrey made a nice pass to set up a pretty goal by Dupuis at 7:17. Dupuis shifted to his backhand and when Lundqvist lunged for the puck, Dupuis calmly lifted it over the goalie for his 14th goal, and his seventh in the last six games.
Bylsma said “don’t know” when asked if Evgeni Malkin might play today. Malkin missed his fourth game with an upper body injury. … Sidney Crosby was held scoreless for the second straight game. … After losing three of their first four home games, the Penguins have won eight of nine on home ice. … The Penguins are 12-0 when they lead after two periods. … Defensemen Deryk Engelland and Robert Bortuzzo were healthy scratches.