“So he’s human after all.”
That line is from the 1989 Batman movie when after shooting the caped crusader two thugs check him over while he plays dead. Then, Batman takes care of some business after taking the bad guys by surprise. His armor is bulletproof of course.
It ran through my head as I watched Marc-Andre Fleury reach up, and then across his body, a little farther across… and miss the puck. Instead, it snuck in just under the crossbar, high and tight to the near side of the net.
As Brandon Saad celebrated his amazing seventh goal of the playoffs for the Colorado Avalanche, the clock said just over one second until intermission. Time of the goal: 19:58. 1-0 Avalanche heading into the intermission.
Marc-Andre Fleury is indeed human after all.
His reaction following the goal was as upset as I’ve seen him get in a long time. He knows he should have had that puck. He admitted after the game he misjudged the pace of the shot, and maybe even his tracking thereof. When it went in his body language said everything, from the head flipping back to him waving his stick in annoyance at himself for a puck he should have had, and a goal that his team couldn’t afford to give up.
But after his teammates picked him up in the locker room, he picked himself up too. And when it came to the start of overtime, he made two big saves just 10 seconds in to allow Mark Stone to race down the ice and score the game-winner just 40 seconds after that.
“I saw it real good,” Fleury laughed after the game. You could tell he was still upset, but now he was able to shrug it off a bit easier after a win. “I felt stupid.”
“You knew he would (respond),” said head coach Pete DeBoer. “And you knew the group would play for him. He’s bailed us out on a number of occasions this year when we’ve made mistakes. I had no doubt after that that he was going to be lights out and our group was going to be lights out for him.”
“It could have been four or five to nothing after the second period, but Flower kept us in it,” Mark Stone said. “He’s bailed us out time and time again. He’s a Vezina candidate for a reason… (the game) should have been over after two (periods), and then again 20 seconds into overtime.”
Instead of letting it get to him, Fleury played some of his best hockey of the series in the second period, shutting down several prime Avs scoring chances and allowing his team to come back and tie the game in the third period. When Mark Stone scored the game-winning goal at 50 seconds into overtime, Fleury was once again all smiles.
“The guys had my back,” said Fleury of that first intermission. “It felt nice. I was trying to do my best to keep the game close. (We) always believe with this group that we can come back in games, and we did in a big way tonight.”
With the win, Marc-Andre Fleury has now moved into a tie for fourth place all-time in playoff wins with Ed Belfour and Billy Smith at 88.