for this game

Fleury stellar as Penguins clinch playoff spot

Mar 26, 2008 - 3:59 AM By Joe Rizzo PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEWARK, New Jersey (Ticker) -- A high ankle sprain has kept Sidney Crosby on the sidelines, but it could not keep the Pittsburgh Penguins out of the playoffs.

Sitting out for the seventh straight game and for the 28th time in the last 31 contests, Crosby watched as Ryan Malone scored a first-period, power-play goal and Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the season as the Penguins clinched a playoff berth Tuesday with a 2-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils.

Fleury made nine saves in the first period, six in the second and 16 in the third en route to his 11th career shutout for the Penguins, who improved to 5-2-0 in this most recent run with their captain out of the lineup. Pittsburgh (44-26-7) also increased its lead over New Jersey (42-27-7) in the Atlantic Division to four points.

"(Making the playoffs) was our goal at the beginning of the year, and to do it was good for us," Fleury said from a locker room that featured no special celebration or emotion with regard to the accomplishment. "It's important to stay focused and finish on top of our division. Then we'll look at the playoffs."

"Everyone's just thinking about trying to finish on top, and that's our goal right now," Malone said.

Malone opened the scoring 5:18 into the game with his 27th goal of the season and 11th on the power play. Patrik Elias, back in the Devils' lineup after missing four games with a knee bruise and the flu, was whistled for interference, and Malone cashed in with a one-timer from the left side of the slot that beat goaltender Martin Brodeur to the stick side.

"I think everyone touched the puck," Malone said. "The four guys on the outside kind of rotated their box and I just popped up in the slot there. Ryan Whitney did a great job putting it on my tape."

Malone had been denied by Brodeur three minutes earlier on a clean breakaway.

The Devils appeared to tie the game midway through the second period, when defenseman Sheldon Brookbank smacked a loose puck into an open net from the bottom of the right faceoff circle, but the goal immediately was waved off.

Prior to Brookbank's shot, Fleury was bumped by New Jersey's Arron Asham, who tried to jam in the puck while carrying it through the crease. The netminder got turned around and the referees ruled it accidental interference, limiting Fleury's ability to play the puck.

"It was a quick decision," Brookbank said. "It was close. Our guy was in there, their guy was in there. When you look at the replay, it might have looked like their guy clipped him a little more. It's tough to see because it happens quick. Right there, you only have one chance of making the call. I don't think you can go to replay on that."

Asham did not receive a penalty for goaltender interference on the controversial ruling.

"On the replays, I got pushed into him. I barely touched him," Asham said. "But that's the way it goes, I guess. They said I bumped the goalie. I don't know why I didn't get a penalty then. It's frustrating. The puck's just not going in for us. And when they do, they don't count."

"I didn't see it until after the period was over," Devils coach Brent Sutter said. "I didn't look up at the video screen. I was told by the coaches and the players. The time they showed it on the video screen, I was talking to the ref. I'm not crazy about it being disallowed. The fact (is) that the guy who was behind Asham doesn't have his stick and wraps his arms around him, and then pushes him on the goalie. It wasn't like he skated through him intentionally trying to hit the goalie."

The Penguins protected the one-goal lead until the final minute of the third, when Marian Hossa scored into an empty net to seal the win and a postseason berth. Malone was credited with an assist to give him a two-point night.

Brodeur stopped 18 shots for New Jersey, which fell to 0-3-1 in its last four games and has been outscored, 9-1, by Pittsburgh in losing its last two. The Devils have scored just seven goals in their last five games.

"We don't have too much time to get ready for the playoffs and, at the same time, position ourselves within the conference," Elias said. "The puck is going to go in eventually. You cannot really think about it, that you're having a tough time scoring. We'll get a lucky bounce."






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    Penguins 2, Devils 0  FinalMar 25 11:40 PM
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    Penguins 2, Devils 0  FinalMar 25 11:33 PM
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    Penguins 2, Devils 0  FinalMar 25 10:46 PM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 1 0 1 2
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 0 0 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - (PP) RYAN MALONE 27 (RYAN WHITNEY, SERGEI GONCHAR)
    5:18
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: PIT - (EN) MARIAN HOSSA 28 (RYAN MALONE, BROOKS ORPIK) 19:18
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSIONS: PIT - 1 OF 2, NJD - 0 OF 3.
    SHOTS ON GOAL:

    Mar 25 9:25 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 2
    NEW JERSEY 0
    3RD PRD: PIT - (EN) MARIAN HOSSA 28 (UNASSISTED) 19:18

    Penguins 2, Devils 0  3rd - 0:42Mar 25 9:21 PM
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    Penguins 2, Devils 0  3rd - 0:42Mar 25 9:21 PM
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    Penguins 1, Devils 0  3rd - 1:40Mar 25 9:18 PM
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    Penguins 1, Devils 0  End of 2ndMar 25 8:43 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 1 0 1
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - (PP) RYAN MALONE 27 (RYAN WHITNEY, SERGEI GONCHAR)
    5:18
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PIT 7 7 14
    NJD 9 6 15
    GOALIES: PI

    Mar 25 8:31 PM
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    Penguins 1, Devils 0  2nd - 5:10Mar 25 8:26 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PITTSBURGH 1 1
    NEW JERSEY 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: PIT - (PP) RYAN MALONE 27 (RYAN WHITNEY, SERGEI GONCHAR)
    5:18
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    PIT 7 7
    NJD 9 9
    GOALIES: PIT - MARC-ANDRE

    Mar 25 7:40 PM


  • NHL
    PITTSBURGH 1
    NEW JERSEY 0
    1ST PRD: PIT - (PP) RYAN MALONE 27 (RYAN WHITNEY, SERGEI GONCHAR) 5:18

    Penguins 1, Devils 0  1st - 14:42Mar 25 7:16 PM
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