Instead of a recap of a game in which the only goal came in a shootout, we're gonna tell a story. It's about a young French Canadian goalie, who was dissed and then snapped. This is the story of Marc-Andre Fleury and his favorite day of the year.
March 25, 2007; Marc-Andre Fleury stops all 29 of 29 shots against the Boston Bruins, in a 5-0 Pittsburgh Penguins win. Despite this impressive feat, Fleury is only named the third star, behind Gary Roberts(1 goal, 2 assists) and Sidney Crosby(2 goals, 1 assist). Feeling slighted for not being recognized for his work, MAF vows he will never allow a goal on this day, to avenge his deserved first starin order to prove his point.*
March 25, 2008; Fleury stops 31 of 31 shots, fulfilling his promise to himself. At the other end of the ice Martin Brodeur stopped 18 of 19 (only a Ryan Malone effort beating him). That would be enough for the Pens to win, they'd tack on an empty netter for good measure and Fleury finally smiled, righting the wrong of last year's snub*, as he was named the game's first star of the game. Sadly though, none of his teammates noticed or seemed to give him the proper attention, so he put the anger away for 12 more months.
March 25, 2009; Due to the upheaval of the Therrien firing and Byslma hiring, MAF almost forgot about 3/25. Until he saw the opponent- the Calgary Flames*. Yes, the same team that Gary Roberts broke into the league with. Feeling inspired, Fleury nabs all 31 shots the Flames throw at his net. Fleury again gets named 1st star of the night, but he thinks he teammates dogged him out by allowing then-Pens defenseman Hal Gill (who scored a rare goal) to be named the game's 2nd star of the night*.
March 24, 2010; The Washington Capitals were initially set to play the Penguins on March 25th, but the savvy Ted Leonsis notices Fleury's incredible 3/25 streak and petitions the NHL for a change*. He claims the Verizon Center has Yanni booked for a concert the following day, despite all evidence showing this to be clearly untrue*. Gary Bettman, spinelessly, agrees (but Mario's check cashes and the conspiracy to give Pittsburgh more power plays continues). Fleury initially intends to keep up his 3/25 mojo and he stops all 9 Washington shots in the first period. Then he realizes, "hey it's just the Caps" and stops caring*. The Caps go on to to win 4-3 in a shootout. Leonsis does a fist pump and relishes in the fact that his team has arrived and avoided the curse.
March 25th 2011; Fleury's ego is out of control, so he tells his teammates about the 3/25 shutout vow*. As ultimate pranksters, the Penguins forwards all make the conscious decision not to score any goals in this game. They let Kris Letang in on the joke, just so he won't hit the net on any scoring chances. Unfortunately they forget to tell Zbynek Michalek and he continues to play lights out defense and block shots in support of Fleury.
Fleury holds his sheet clean, which is no surprise on this day. Those merry pranksters known as the Penguins forwards (plus Letang) also do their part. Something has to give when it goes to the shootout.
Enter James Neal. He wanted to appeal to his biggest hater @TPBadam*. So he decided to break script and score. Really, Neal just wanted to go to a party on the Southside that Max Talbot told him about --and we all know Talbot couldn't score if he actually tried (note: no asterisk)-- so Neal took the matter into his own hands and aimed to shut Adam up too. Also James Neal, who has trained with Gary Roberts since he was 16 years old, was told by his mentor to try and score all game, to again ruin Fleury's spotlight. Neal couldn't come through during the game (surprise, surprise) but he did finally redeem himself by hitting the back of the net under the pressure of Roberts' watchful eye.
Neal would not get the last laugh, Marc-Andre Fleury would. 4 NHL games played on 3/25, 4 shutouts. And three straight times named first star of the night. The protege of Roberts couldn't come through in time to derail Fleury's efforts.
But will this redemption be enough for Fleury to relent and break his pledge? Especially now that the true story of his domination is out.
Tune in next March 25th to find out.
*Yeah, so obviously everything with this * sign didn't happen. But you know what else doesn't happen? Pitching a shutout the same day FOUR TIMES IN A ROW. So in a boring 1-0 shootout game, consider this your recap. All hail Marc-Andre.