Three things we learned in the NHL: Fleury stonewalls Capitals

The New Jersey Devils won the NHL Draft Lottery and the Flyers and Stars moved up to round out the top three.

• Fleury is stone-cold in win over Caps
• Pageau puts Senators on his back
• Shorthanded goals galore

The Washington Capitals couldn’t solve Marc-Andre Fleury, Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a game to remember, and being shorthanded wasn’t much of a disadvantage.

Here are three things we learned in the NHL Saturday.

Penguins hold off Fleury of shots to beat Capitals

Where would the Pittsburgh Penguins be without Marc-Andre Fleury? We’ll never know.

But we do know that he has been one of the MVPs of the playoffs so far and Saturday’s Game 2 win over Washington may have been his best game yet.

Fleury made 34 saves including 16 in the first period as the Penguins beat the Capitals 6-2.

The Capitals outshot the Penguins 16-5 in the first period and 36-24 by the end of the game, a showcase of pure dominance. But it didn’t matter, as Fleury stayed locked in all game long.

In the end, Pittsburgh scored on 25 per cent of their shots (including one into the empty net). Washington on only five per cent of theirs.

After the game, Fleury spoke with Sportsnet’s Christine Simpson. As you’ll see in the video, he’s having a lot of fun.

While everything is butterflies and rainbows in the Penguins net, the Capitals may have a goalie controversy in theirs. Barry Trotz pulled last season’s Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby after he gave up three goals on 14 shots in the first two periods. Philipp Grubauer replaced him but didn’t do much better, allowing two goals on nine shots in the third.

With the Capitals now down 2-0 heading into Pittsburgh, they will need Holtby to return to form. Otherwise, ice won’t be back on the floor of the Verizon Centre until September.


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Jean-Gabriel Pa-goal

Hockey is a team game, but every once in a while one guy picks his team up and carries them to the finish line. On Saturday, that was Pageau, who scored four goals including the overtime winner to give the Ottawa Senators a 2-0 series lead over the New York Rangers.

What’s even more impressive was how important all four goals were. The first goal came midway through the first period and tied the game at one after an early Rangers goal. His next two goals allowed the Senators to erase a 5-3 Rangers lead late in the third and force overtime, which he then ended with this amazing shot.

This isn’t the first time Pageau has scored a hat trick in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He had another one back in 2013, in a Senators 6-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of the first round.

It also wasn’t the first four-goal game of the season at the Canadien Tire Centre. Maple Leafs fans will remember that it was in Ottawa where Auston Matthews made his spectacular NHL debut.

Pageau is now second in playoff goals with five, two behind Penguins rookie Jake Guentzel, who scored twice on Saturday.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnson has more on Pageau’s special day in his post-game column.

Game 3 of this series goes Tuesday in New York. All eyes will be on Pageau, as he takes his show to Broadway.

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Who said being shorthanded was a disadvantage?

Taking a penalty and going down a man usually lowers a team’s chances of scoring. But that wasn’t the case on Saturday.

The New York Rangers scored two shorthanded goals and the Penguins scored one. The four teams that played Saturday combined to have only two power-play goals.

The Rangers’ two goals put them up 1-0 and 3-1 against the Sens. As we know, they couldn’t hold either of those leads.

But the highlight of the night was 40-year-old Matt Cullen scoring on a shorthanded breakaway to put the Penguins up 1-0. That lead didn’t last either, but it got the Penguins rolling in what ended up being a blowout win.

It was Cullen’s first goal since April 6 against the New Jersey Devils. Coincidently, that one was shorthanded too.

As the playoffs continue, teams may start pushing for more goals while down a man. If Saturday is proof of anything, that strategy just might work.


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