|ESPN.com: NHL Playoffs 2008||[Print without images]|
|Marc-Andre Fleury earned his first career playoff shutout in Wednesday's Game 1 vs. Ottawa. Grin.|
Not sly or put on, but almost Cheshire cat-like, as though it's become a bodily function like breathing or blinking.Was Fleury worried he might not be able to return to the No. 1 job when his high-ankle sprain healed, given how well Ty Conklin had played during Fleury's almost three-month absence? Grin. "I didn't know what to expect really, but I just sort of came in and tried to play good. I missed hockey for so long, so I was just happy to be back with the team," Fleury said Thursday about 14 hours after his first career playoff shutout in a 4-0 win over the Ottawa Senators that gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 1-0 series lead. He kept the game puck and it's now with a collection of pucks wrapped in tape with the date and score on them. They mark special moments, like his first NHL win back when he was 19, his 11 NHL shutouts and his 40th win a year ago. Where are the pucks?
• Ottawa defenseman Anton Volchenkov met with reporters Thursday displaying an ugly cut above his left eye courtesy of an Evgeni Malkin slap shot in Game 1. The puck struck Volchenkov's helmet with such force it cut him for 15 stitches, leaving a swollen area around the impact zone.Sens coach Bryan Murray seemed uncertain about whether Volchenkov would be able to get a helmet to over the cut and play with safety in Friday's Game 2, but Volchenkov was more optimistic. "Probably. Probably play tomorrow," said the rugged defender, who finished second in the league in blocked shots despite missing 15 games to injury. If Volchenkov cannot play, it will mean another significant loss for a Senators team already reeling from the absence of captain Daniel Alfredsson, Mike Fisher and Chris Kelly. "He'll play if he can play, we know that," said Murray, who acknowledged it would be a huge loss if Volchenkov cannot go. If Volchenkov is out, veteran Luke Richardson will take his place in the lineup. • Murray was asked what he was going to do about trying to get some goals out of an injury-depleted lineup that has now been shut out three times in its last five games.
"That's the question of the day, obviously," Murray said.One thing the coach will try is to start Game 2 by moving hard-nosed veteran Martin Lapointe to the team's top line with Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza. It's hoped Lapointe can create some space for Spezza and Heatley to get into better scoring positions. • Murray agreed that being successful in the playoffs often means overcoming adversity. He just wished the Penguins would get to try some of it, too. "I'd like to see the other team to have some things to overcome," Murray joked. -- Scott Burnside