With Sid and Geno both out with injuries, GTOG tapped Marc-Andre Fleury as the man to accept the onus of winning games without two of the NHL's premier players. It may have taken a game too long as Bylsma started Brent Johnson in New Jersey, but with Fleury back in the cage last night, all was well.
Without Crosby and Malkin, the key to the Pens' success is fairly simple -- score first. In New Jersey, the Pens quickly went down 2-0 and you knew that you were never going to get the next 2 hours of your life back. Last night, the Canes appeared to have scored first (I certainly thought it went in), but it turned out that Fleury got his butt-end on the shot and just a few minutes later the Pens finally scored their first goal without Sid and Geno.
It's a source of no consternation for GTOG that the Pens gave up two late goals to make this a nail-biting finish. When your two top guns are out, you take wins any way you can. Also, I think we've reached the point in Fleury's career where we just have to assume that he will only get shutouts in incredibly rare situations. He's playing as well as any goalie in the league this season, but he has only one shutout. It's just not in his arsenal.
No doubt that this game is overshadowed by the pending Steelers-Jets AFC title game, but a huge two points nonetheless.
Check back late tonight or Monday morning for a special GTOPG Steelers podcast. Hopefully the mood will be celebratory, but if not, we'll just talk about something else.