By Tim Panaccio,
Marc-Andre Fleury shut the Philadelphia Flyers down, holding them without a goal in the second and third periods of Game 5.
Somehow, you got the feeling that finally, a goalie in this Eastern Conference quarter-final series between the Flyers and Penguins was trying to make a difference.
That perhaps, the guy who most recently won a Stanley Cup (Fleury) had started sprouting.
"The Flower" reinforced that he's a series late bloomer in Friday's 3-2 Penguins victory, again holding the Flyers scoreless in the final two periods.
His stolen victory sets up what should be a pressure-packed Game 6 Sunday afternoon in South Philly.
If the Flyers' orange sweaters aren't a little tight right now, they should be because both these teams understand you don't want to let this series go back to Pittsburgh for a Game 7.
Fleury was asked after the game if he could remember the last time he was that good, that effective, that overwhelming for his team.
"I don't know the last time," Fleury said. "Definitely not happy losing the first three games, but nothing was over. We just tried to focus one game at a time, one period at a time and keep on playing."
Fleury was nothing short of spectacular during a seven-shot Flyer power play in the third period where he had to make four saves in the crease area alone.
Incidentally, the Flyers power play is at 55 per cent in this series (11 for 20) which, in itself, is remarkable.
"Yeah, it was a little bit of action there," Fleury said of his heroics during that penalty kill.
"I still thought our guys did a good job. They blocked some shots and took guys at the backdoors and stuff. The crowd was awesome, too. Being loud and giving us the energy throughout it."
Fleury finished the night with 24 saves and more than half of them were anything but routine.
"Well, the two on [Danny] Briere," during the power play," Kris Letang told reporters. "I think it's three ... I don't even know. I couldn't even really count, anymore. The one on [Scott] Hartnell, too, at the end, was unbelievable."
While Fleury was providing the ultimate difference in net, Jordan Staal, playing in a shutdown role, continued to dazzle on the offensive side of the puck.
His six goals led all playoff performers, he had the tying goal in the second period and he has nine points, second only to current playoff leader Claude Giroux (11).
"It's still do-or-die for us," Staal said of Sunday's showdown. "It's our mentality of playing it one game at a time, just five minutes at a time and keep chipping away.
"We're hoping to go into Philly and do the same thing we did (in Game 5) and get the win."
It's all on the Flyers now. They know they let the Penguins back in the series.
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was rather upset after the game about that fact.
"We failed and let Pittsburgh back into the [series]," he said.
Interestingly, Giroux stood in front of the cameras and sucked it up, saying he welcomes the pressure of Game 6.
Truth is, the Flyers, since the 2009-10 season, have shown their resolve in pressure situations. They were down 0-3 to Boston that year and came back. They know Pittsburgh is capable of doing the same.
Yet Giroux feels Game 6 will show people what this young club is made of.
"I love pressure," he said. "So the pressure's on us, that's good ... We need to find a way to get that fourth one. It's probably the hardest game to win, but we've got to get it done."
The team that has scored first in the series has lost every game. Giroux supports Jaromir Jagr's idea on how to fix that.
"Let them score the first goal and the faster we will be focused for Game 6," Giroux joked.
Will he play?
Flyer defenceman Nicklas Grossmann practiced with the team on Saturday. The club has not said anything about him, but the players confirm he is concussed, the result of back-to-back hits, one from Tyler Kennedy and the other Evgeni Malkin in Game 4.
That being the case, Grossmann should not be permitted to play in Game 6. Flyers sources said they were hoping to win Game 5 so he could have a week to recover.
Grossmann's absence from the lineup saw some rather interesting ice times for the Flyers defence in Game 5. Matt Carle played a game-high 29:40. Braydon Coburn played 29:11 and Kimmo Timonen 25:01.
The remaining three, Pavel Kubina, Andreas Lilja and Erik Gustafsson, combined for 25:52.
Tim Panaccio writes for CSNPhilly.com and can followed on Twitter @tpanotchCSN.
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