PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The past two weeks, Marc-Andre Fleury has been stopping almost all the shots thrown his way and that trend continued Friday.
Fleury made a season-high 43 saves—more than he had in a game in 11 months—and Alex Goligoski scored the winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 2-1 for their fifth consecutive win.
“They kept playing and made things pretty hard on us,” said Fleury, who last made as many saves Dec. 23, also against Ottawa. “They threw lot of pucks from a little bit of everywhere.”
The Senators had a season-high 44 shots—including 21 in the first period, the most the Penguins have allowed this season.
Fleury lost six of his first seven decisions and temporarily lost his starting job, but as he has played better, so have the Penguins. Pittsburgh and Fleury are 7-0-1 and he has a 1.60 goals-against average in their past eight.
“I’m still playing the same way I did. I’m just a little more relaxed,” Fleury said. “Things are going well. We’re winning games and the guys are helping me out. The team’s playing good, they’re not giving up scoring chances, and that helps a lot. We’re doing all right.”
Evgeni Malkin also scored with Sidney Crosby assisting on the play for the Penguins. Crosby extended his points streak to 11 games, third-longest of his career and tied for the longest in the NHL this season.
Jesse Winchester scored for Ottawa, which has lost five of six.
Goligoski’s fifth goal of the season came with 14:55 to play and 2:18 into a rare double-minor for two separate infractions given to the same player, Ottawa’s Chris Kelly.
“That’s the first time I’ve seen that happen,” Kelly said.
Aided when Mike Fisher fell after a collision with Pittsburgh’s Mark Letestu in the high slot, Goligoski took the puck at the left point and walked in, firing a wrist shot that beat Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire short side, deflecting off the high post and in.
“They skated right up behind Mike and as soon as he turned, the guy picked him and they scored the winning goal,” Senators coach Cory Clouston said. “It ended up being the winning goal.”
Said Ottawa defenceman Erik Karlsson: “It’s tough to play against a team and the refs sometimes.”
That was the second power-play goal of the game for Pittsburgh, which has five power-play goals in its past four games.
The Penguins struck late during their first power-play opportunity, coming midway through the second and within minutes of Leclaire making two strong saves on chances by Crosby.
Malkin scored for the seventh time in his past six games against the Senators, skating in to collect a loose puck off a rebound after shots by Crosby and Tyler Kennedy and firing the puck into the net for his eighth of the season.
Winchester had given Ottawa a 1-0 lead 12:11 into the game when he knocked in a loose puck from the crease after Karlsson shot it from the left point and Jarkko Ruutu deflected it.
But that would be all Fleury would allow. Coming off a shutout of Buffalo two days earlier, Fleury’s best stop Friday was on Kelly with 8:07 left in the first. Kelly collected the puck while open low in the right circle, but Fleury slid across with both pads and stuck his glove up to catch the wrist shot.
“(Fleury) has been unbelievable the last few games,” Goligoski said.
Fleury also stopped Peter Regin on an open one-timer four minutes into the game.
Pittsburgh did not allow a power play goal against for the seventh consecutive game. The Senators went 0-for-3 and are on a 2-for-20 skid.
“Its a loss, and we’ve got to find ways to win those tie games,” Leclaire said. “We played pretty good, but Marc-Andre played a good game today. He made some good saves. It was just a good up-and-down game.”
Notes: Kennedy assisted on both Pittsburgh goals. … The Penguins have their first three-game winning streak at Consol Energy Center. … Coming into the game, the Senators were 8-1 when scoring first. The Penguins improved to 6-6-2 when the opponent gets the first goal. … Karlsson was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past two games. … The Penguins had 20 shots in the second period.