Weather warming, birds singing, Marc-Andre Fleury spazzing out. These are the rites of Spring. When Nick Foligno chipped an innocent shot from the blue line on Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh goalie’s programming kicked in: Must. Allow. Weak-ass goal.
That softie won the game for Lumbus in overtime, tying the series 2-2, and sending Penguins fans into conniption fits. All for good reason: a shot from the blue line has like a 1-in-50 chance of going in– maybe less. It should have been a routine save for Fleury. His gaffe on the tying goal in the third period shouldn’t have happened either.
So Fleury is the Escape Goat, again, but I fear that reputation might obscure how truly bad the entire Penguins team was in this game. Really, it’s the whole team’s fault.
During the regular season, the Pens were not a great team when playing with the lead. On Wednesday, it burned them. Pittsburgh started great, earning a 3-0 lead just fifteen minutes into the game. But after a power play following James Neal‘s would-be back breaker, the Penguins just stopped.
For the rest of the game, Columbus out-shot Pittsburgh 63 to 30 (including blocked shots and misses). The Blue Jackets had the puck twice as much as the Penguins, and made them pay for the mistake.
With 24 seconds left in regulation, Fleury abandoned the net. File under unwise.
And then, in overtime, the most dreaded weapon from Nick Foligno‘s arsenal: a casual wrister from the blue.
He never stood a chance.
Fleury faced 39 shots on goal in the final 45 minutes of #rego and the remainder in OT. That’d be a 77th percentile workload in a full regular-season game. Fleury stopped 35 of those shots for a .897 save percentage. That looks bad, but it’s still better than about 39% of games played during the regular season.
On the other end of the ice, after the fifteen-minute mark Sergei Bobrovsky needed to stop just 15 shots– or one every three minutes– to help his team eke out the win.
I don’t want to stop anyone from schadening Fleury’s freude-- that’s my favorite thing about this time of year, but his team shouldn’t be let off the hook. The Penguins fed MAF to the wolves. (The wolves, in this metaphor, are an empty-net chip and a beach ball from the blue line.)
On the other hand, you could think about this way: Lumbus were stellar in the comeback.
What a celebration. pic.twitter.com/GepfNZC5oH
— RMNB (@russianmachine) April 24, 2014