Marc-Andre Fleury was flawless in Tuesday's win over the Bolts
It was a nail-biter down to the very end, but the Pittsburgh Penguins topped the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 2-0 third period stomp to continue their win streak and maintain the top seed in division and conference standings.
Victory for the Pens was secured between the pipes by recent reactivated youngin' Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury was flawless on 35 shots, awarding him his tenth career shutout (third for the season) and second straight win since returning to the Pens' lineup against Atlanta on Sunday. Challenged regularly by Tampa's core of snipers, Fleury showed his prowess while putting aside a breakaway shot from Lecavalier. Had the pads failed him, the tide of the game could've easily turned.
Sidney Crosby was also back and suited up in Tuesday's victory after missing 21 games with a high ankle sprain, but it was rare heroics from third-line forward Max Talbot that secured the Pens' win with less than three minutes remaining in the game. With five seconds remaining, Evgeni Malkin notched the insurance marker with an empty net goal for his thirty-eighth of the season. Crosby registered an assist on Talbot's goal, his forty-fourth of the season.
The Lightning's netminder Mike Smith, recently acquired from Dallas, played a commendable game, stopping both Malkin and Crosby on straight-away breaks. Challenged by only 22 Penguins shots, it was a defensive slip and odd flop of the puck that cost him his only goal-against.
Since coming back from his short stint in Wilkes-Barre, Fleury looks like an entirely different netminder. His confidence is back, his ability to scoop up loose pucks and redirect shots to the corners has also improved ten-fold.
The Penguins continue their Florida road trip on Thursday with a match against the Panthers. Puck drops at 7:30.