Marc-Andre Fleury, you are no Martin Brodeur. At least not on Wednesday night, you weren’t. Brodeur, the legendary Devils goaltender, has long been hailed for his ability to leave the crease and handle pucks, in effect providing his team with a third defenseman. In fact, the rule the NHL instituted in 2005 mandating that goalies could only handle the puck in a trapezoid-shaped area directly behind their nets was immediately dubbed “the Brodeur Rule,” as observers assumed it was aimed primarily at limiting his activity.
Well, Fleury was in that trapezoid with less than 30 seconds left in Wednesday night’s playoff game against Columbus, trying to help his Penguins desperately close out a contest in which they had once held a 3-0 lead. Instead, the puck hopped over his stick, and Columbus’s Ryan Johansen was able to slide a centering pass through traffic to teammate Brandon Dubinsky, who buried it past a desperately scrambling Fleury.
That sent the game into overtime, where Fleury would once again be the goat, allowing Nick Foligno’s shot from just inside the blueline to trickle past him and give Columbus the dramatic Game 4 win, which tied the series at two games apiece.
In fairness, Fleury did stop a hefty 42 shots; by contrast, Columbus counterpart Sergei Bobrovsky only had to make 22 saves. But that will come as minuscule consolation to Fleury and his Pittsburgh teammates, who find themselves in a best-of-three series now against a fired-up Blue Jackets squad that can smell Penguin blood in these icy waters.
Full highlights here, which are worth watching if you haven’t seen how this crazy game unfolded: