Fleury shines debut; Pens still lose

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury did everything in his NHL debut -- except get the win.

The 18-year-old netminder stopped 46 shots, including a penalty shot, in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night at the Igloo.

Eric Belanger, Trent Klatt and Zigmund Palffy scored for the Kings, who were coming off a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Thursday night. Palffy and Klatt added assists in the win.

Cristobal Huet had a much easier time in the other goal, making 11 saves for his second career shutout.

Fleury, the first overall pick in June's NHL entry draft, was spectacular between the pipes for the Pens, but was saddled with the burden of seven Kings power plays.

Also making his NHL debut behind the bench was Penguins head coach Eddie Olczyk, who was likely not pleased with his squad's lack of discipline.

Fleury was greeted early in the game when Belanger scored shorthanded on a breakaway just 38 seconds into the first period, skating out in front of the Pittsburgh defence before beating the rookie netminder top-shelf.

That was all the scoring until 15:43 of the second period when Pittsburgh's Reid Simpson was called off for a checking from behind penalty, a five minute major that gave the Kings a lengthy power play.

The Kings pressured Fleury early in the man advantage, rotating the puck patiently before Klatt made it 2-0 with a deflection in front. Palffy fired the shot on net from above the right circle and appeared to have the goal, but replays showed the puck was deflected under Fleury's right pad by Klatt.

Pittsburgh killed off the remaining power play, but immediately faced a 5-on-3 when Brooks Orpik was whistled off for a game misconduct and match penalty for kneeing LA defenceman Tim Gleason with just 13 seconds remaining in the second. The Penguins escaped the rest of the period, however, and held LA scoreless for the remainder of that power play in the third.

Gleason left the game with a left leg injury.

Fleury then faced his biggest challenge of the night when rookie Esa Pirnes was awarded a penalty shot with less than three minutes remaining in the third. Pirnes skated straight at the rookie goaltender on the attempt, but was turned away when Fleury poke checked the puck away at the top of the crease.

Palffy added an empty net goal with 38 seconds remaining in the game to give the Kings their final margin.

Game Notes:

  • There was a moment of silence was observed for the late Herb Brooks, the Penguins' player development director and former U.S. Olympic hockey coach who died in a summertime car accident.

  • The Kings played without injured forwards Jason Allison, Adam Deadmarsh, Aaron Miller and Mattias Norstrom. Kings centre Sean Avery also didn't play so he could attend Thrashers centre Dan Snyder's funeral Friday in Elmira, Ont. The two were roommates in junior hockey.

    with files from Sports Network