The Philadelphia Flyers figured Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin might be the most difficult Pittsburgh Penguins to deal with, but netminder Marc-Andre Fleury proved their worthiest adversary Tuesday night.
Fleury turned aside 45 of 46 shots as the Penguins nipped the hometown Flyers 3-1 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarter-final at the Wachovia Center.
"It didn't matter how many shots they had, I just tried to make the saves and I knew we would be in good shape to win the game," Fleury said.
"He was huge tonight," Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy told CBC Sports.
Pittsburgh leads the best-of-seven opening-round series 3-1.
Game 5 goes Thursday at Mellon Arena (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET).
"We're not dead," Flyers forward Danny Briere said.
Crosby, Kennedy and Maxime Talbot, into a empty net with 52 seconds remaining, scored for the fourth-seeded Penguins.
Matt Cooke had two assists.
"I think our whole team responded tonight," Penguins rookie head coach Dan Bylsma said. "They threw a lot at us.
"They threw the kitchen sink at us. They had a lot of power plays tonight and pucks to the net and he [Fleury] was good on the first puck, he was good on the second one and he was good in the crease."
Daniel Carcillo scored for the fifth-ranked Flyers, spoiling Fleury's bid for a fourth post-season shutout with 8:16 remaining.
"I thought we did everything well except put the puck in the net," Flyers captain Mike Richards said.
Philadelphia certainly has plenty of opportunities, but failed to score on eight power plays.
"We created a lot of good opportunities on the power play, but just couldn't get it in," Flyers head coach John Stevens said. "Tonight was one of those nights we had a tough time scoring."
Sensational from start to finish
Fleury was sensational from start to finish, making a pair of pad saves on odd-man rushes in the opening period, robbing rookie Darroll Powe from point-blank
range in the second, and trapping a rebound off the left post before Scott Hartnell could sweep it past him.
Pittsburgh nearly broke the scoreless deadlock on Ruslan Fedotenko's snap shot from the slot with nine minutes left in the first period, but Flyers netminder
Martin Biron reached behind him in time to smother a bouncing puck before it crossed the goal-line.
Biron later extended his left leg to prevent Jordan Staal from stuffing the puck inside the post and Petr Sykora failed to pot the rebound, whisking the puck through the crease and out the other side.
Crosby was credited with opening the scoring 3:19 into the second period as he was upended in the crease by Flyers forward Simon Gagne.
Video review confirmed that Crosby redirected Chris Kunitz's centring pass with the shaft of his stick before he slid into Biron.
It was Crosby's second goal and sixth point in the series.
"I just want hard to the net and just got my stick on it," he said. "It hit my leg or something and I just tried to drive the net."
"That is how he scores goals and that one right there is a typical goal," Bylsma noted. "He was driving the net hard and was able to get his stick on it."
Kennedy doubled Pittsburgh's lead at the 7:41 mark, collecting Cooke's pass into the slot and fooling Flyers defenceman Andrew Alberts and Biron with a nifty backhand deke before slipping the puck in the open side for his second goal.
"I think our line has really come together in the playoffs," Kennedy said.
The Flyers finally solved Fleury 11:44 into the third period, when Carcillo buried a rebound after Richards was thwarted on the initial backhand at the right post.
"If we play the way we did tonight, we won't have a problem going into Pittsburgh and winning," Carcillo said.
Pittsburgh eliminated Philadelphia in five games in last spring's conference final, only to fall to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup final.