Blue Jackets fall to Penguins in series opener
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marc-Andre Fleury spent the regular season saying all the right things — and just as importantly, doing all the right things — while watching Matt Murray take his job.
It wasn’t easy. Yet the goalie with more wins than any other in the history of the Pittsburgh Penguins handled the demotion with grace. Never complaining about playing time and doing his best to help the 22-year-old Murray adjust to the grind during his first full season in the NHL.
Coverage of Blue Jackets vs. Penguins continues with Game 2 Friday night on FOX Sports Ohio and FOX Sports GO
The Penguins held on to Fleury at the trade deadline, keenly aware that the time may come when they would need him to coax a little more magic out of his No. 29 sweater.
That time arrived Wednesday night against Columbus. When Murray tweaked something during pregame warmups , Fleury found himself starting. And for the next couple of hours, it seemed like old times.
Fleury withstood an early push by the Blue Jackets and stopped 31 shots in all as the Penguins opened their Stanley Cup title defense with a 3-1 victory. Game 2 is Friday night in Pittsburgh.
“It felt like it’s been awhile,” Fleury said. “I was a little nervous at the beginning maybe from not expecting it.”
Funny, didn’t look like it. The Blue Jackets peppered Fleury during a one-sided first period, throwing 16 shots his way while Fleury’s teammates mustered just three at the other end of the ice. Fleury stopped them all, and when Pittsburgh finally got it going in the second period, the Blue Jackets couldn’t keep pace.
Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino and Bryan Rust scored in the second, with Evgeni Malkin assisting on Rust and Kessel’s goals in his first game back after missing the final three weeks of the regular season with an upper-body injury. It was a surge reminiscent of Pittsburgh’s sprint to…