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Penguins slow down the Flyers; Fleury holds lead in big third period

PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury restored order to his goal crease and his team's Stanley Cup hopes.

Fleury turned aside 24 shots -- a dozen in a frantic third period -- and the Penguins fended off elimination with a 3-2 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night in Game Five of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

"He won them the game, plain and simple," Philadelphia forward Scott Hartnell said.

Facing elimination, Fleury had no choice. The Flyers spent the game's final 15 minutes doing everything they could to rattle him, bowling him over on more than one occasion and forcing him to make stops with one or two players draped around his white pads.

Yet after four wild games in which his goals-against average and his confidence took a beating, Fleury stood tall to trim Philadelphia's lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Game Six is Sunday in Philadelphia.

"(Fleury) was on and he made some huge ones," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. "It definitely was the difference in the game. It's the time of year when you need those and he came up big for us."

Steve Sullivan, Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy scored for Pittsburgh, which won on a night stars Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held pointless. The Penguins dug in, however, after another shaky start to keep their hopes alive of becoming the fourth team in NHL history to rally from a three-game deficit.

"Our defense made hard and good plays," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "We finally got what looks like a playoff game a little bit more tonight."

It was a welcome change for the Penguins, who have struggled to keep up with the Flyers during a series more suited to a video game than the Stanley Cup. The teams had combined for 45 goals, a record for the first four games of a series. The goal light -- which malfunctioned briefly in the third period -- only came on five times Friday as the wide open sheets of ice that marked the first week of the series suddenly disappeared.

"The pace was still fast and furious," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said. "It was physical we just couldn't get it in the back of the net as often. We had opportunities. We had good looks at it. Their goaltender made big saves at the end."

Hartnell and Matt Carle scored power-play goals in the first period for Philadelphia, but the Flyers failed to close out Pittsburgh for the second straight game. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 20 shots, playing much steadier two days after getting yanked in the second period of a 10-3 loss in Game Four.

Staal had a hat trick in the rout, but his goal Friday might have been more important. The Flyers had the lead and momentum when Staal beat Bryzgalov over the glove 6:15 into the second period to tie it and give the Penguins an energy boost in front of the largest crowd in the Consol Energy Center's brief history.

Kennedy put Pittsburgh in front to stay just over three minutes later.

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