“Without him we didn’t have a chance” — Chris Kunitz on Marc Andre Fleury’s performance vs the Nashville .

Out-shot 39-23 in regulation, -28 in shot attempts (NSH 70-42) and -24 in even strength shot attempts (NSH 60-36), Marc Andre Fleury was sensational in the Penguins 2-1 overtime victory vs the Nashville Predators.

“Thought early in the game, third period he was outstanding,” said Mike Johnston about Fleury. “He looks big in the net. He was really good tonight when we needed him.”

Fleury was peppered in the third but the second period he made four to five great saves to keep the Predators off the board.

Fleury’s positioning continues to be the area that stands out so much now compared to 2-3 years ago. As Johnston noted in his post-game comments, Fleury looks big in the net and when he’s on like he’s been in four to five games already this season, including tonight, you need a near perfect shot to beat him.

Fleury is in such a good place right now as a goaltender in his career, those hoping for a coaching change at some point this season probably won’t get their wish because Fleury is going to steal enough games like tonight to keep the Penguins as a middle of the pack team in the East and give management a belief that they are closer to being a Cup contender than they really are.


— The Penguins have been held to 2 goals or less in regulation in all eight games this season, haven’t scored more than three goals in a regular season game since March 12 vs the Oilers. Despite scoring just one goal in regulation tonight, out-shot 33-19 (5 v 5), out-attempted 60-36 (5 v 5), in the first two periods the Penguins had their moments 5 v 5 where they were winning puck battles in the corners and creating offense in around the net. There were some positives there tonight.

The Penguins came out in the third, though, with a clear game plan to sit back, try to clog the neutral zone and pretty much play prevent defense. Despite opening the third period with a power play, Mike Johnston went with his first line (Dupuis-Crosby-Hornqvist) and top d-pair (Cole-Letang) to start the power play and when it got back to even strength, Pittsburgh went into a neutral zone trap that would be cracked immediately by the Predators.

Pittsburgh was out-shot 17-5 in the third and out-attempted 26-11.

Mike Johnston talks about being an offensive coach but at the end of the day he always chooses being conservative. Fleury bailed him out tonight.

Chris Kunitz scored a much needed goal and you could see how happy all of his teammates were for him. Kunitz’ days are over as an impact player, but fans should be a lot of more frustrated towards a David Perron who’s in the prime of his career than a 36 year old Kunitz. [hide]

— With Eric Fehr close to returning and the Penguins somewhat confident that Beau Bennett will be able to play through his injury, the odds continue to be stronger of Daniel Sprong being returned to juniors. Played just two shifts in the third. As I’ve said before Mike Johnston believes going back to juniors will benefit Sprong.

Sergei Plotnikov was bumped off the second line as the game progressed. Played just three shifts in third. Going to see a revolving door at both top-6 left wing spots until a trade happens. Players who the coaches don’t trust defensively, barely played in the third.

— Mike Johnston talked post-game of how overtimes are ending so quickly, Phil Kessel scored 41 seconds in tonight, yet he had Pascal Dupuis start the 3-on-3 OT.

— The Penguins 0-3 on the power play, had 4 PP shots in 9:00 of power play time, just two shots on a five minute major in the first period. Didn’t record their first power play shot on the five minute major until 2:48 in. Look for lots of work on power play breakouts the next couple days.

James Neal scored his 6th goal of the season and had 12 shot attempts in the loss for Nashville.[/hide]