THIRD STAR – MARC-ANDRE FLEURY, G, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Fleury posted a 2-0-0 record with a 0.50 goals-against average, .979 save percentage and one shutout as the Penguins opened the season with a pair of victories. He recorded 27 saves in a 3-0 triumph over the New Jersey Devils Oct. 3, marking the 24th shutout of his NHL career and second in a season-opening game. Fleury then made 20 stops in a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres Oct. 5, extending his season-opening shutout streak to a franchise-record 115:06 before allowing a goal with 4:54 remaining in regulation. With the victories, the 28-year-old Sorel, Que., native moved into a tie for 45th place on the all-time NHL wins list (251) with Colorado Avalanche netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
An encouraging start of the season for a guy who desperately needed one, especially considering backup goalie Tomas Vokoun is on the shelf for 3-6 months while he deals with his blood clot condition.
There’s something to be said about the defense in this award too. Though Fleury did make several great saves over the course of the two games (against two offensively weak teams, we should add), the defense in front of him played really smart and solid. Even without number one defenseman Kris Letang, the Pens did a good job controlling the puck and keeping it out of their zone. Led by calm veteran influences like Rob Scuderi and Paul Martin, the defense buckled down and was really great in both games too, blocking shots and making clears of the puck successfully.
This next week will be an interesting one for the Pens who play new division rival Carolina on Tuesday before heading to Florida for quick games on Friday and Saturday nights in Miami and Tampa, respectively. Fleury will lilkely play two of the three, and hopefully be able to keep up his high level of play.
No one will rest easy until he does it in the playoffs, but at least for now it’s so far so good for MAF and the Pens.