As one would expect after a 44-save performance, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was brought up often in the San Jose Sharks’ dressing room late Thursday night at Consol Energy Center.
However, instead of offering compliments on Fleury’s play, many Sharks disparaged what they thought was a fortunate performance by the Pittsburgh netminder. San Jose center Logan Couture had the strongest criticism, saying he thought Fleury was “shaky” in the Pens’ 5-1 win.
On Friday, the Penguins had their chance to respond to the Sharks’ comments, which did have some basis in truth. Fleury often had to scramble to deny quality opportunities, and there’s always some luck involved in that.
Fleury had the sharpest retort to Couture, telling the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Shelly Anderson after Friday’s morning skate, “Maybe he should’ve put [the puck] in then. What was he doing?”
Sidney Crosby, who had three assists in the Penguins’ fifth straight victory, was slightly more diplomatic about the situation, saying, “it didn’t seem like [Fleury] was…fighting the puck.”
Defenseman Matt Niskanen seemed the most offended by Couture’s comments:
Niskanen on Couture quote:That’s kind of a stupid comment. Sure, they had a lot of chances.They didn’t bury them b/c he competed really hard
— Shelly Anderson (@pgshelly) December 6, 2013
Usually cross-conference matchups don’t inspire much in the way of outward emotion, but clearly this was a special case. The two teams, both of whom lead their divisions, will meet again March 6 in San Jose. If Fleury is healthy, he’ll likely get an opportunity to double-down on Thursday’s high-quality effort.
Zolnierczyk, 26, has appeared in three games for the Penguins this year, recording zero points and two shots on goal. He has nine goals and three assists in 18 AHL games. The 30-year-old Ebbett suited up five times for Pittsburgh, earning an assist in bottom-six duty.