It's not polite to stare, but there was little else the Flyers could do to Marc-Andre Fleury.
They stared, mostly in disbelief.
At some juncture during most Stanley Cup playoff series, a goalie stakes his claim as the best on either side.
In Game 4 last night at the Wachovia Center, Fleury did just that, which is the short answer for why the Flyers are in serious trouble as Pittsburgh took a three-games-to-one grip on the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a tense 3-1 win.
The Flyers pumped 46 shots at the lanky Penguins goalie, but the only one that got past him was the 40th. It came off the stick of Dan Carcillo, of all people, who had the top half of the net to himself while Fleury was on his side after turning away Mike Richards.
Otherwise, all the Flyers could do was stare and grimace and shake their heads after Fleury turned them away.
Afterward, Sidney Crosby, who scored the game's first goal in the second period, said he could sense the goalie they call "Flower" was in form to stonewall the Flyers from the opening face-off.
"He was great from the first period," Crosby said. "You could tell by the way he was controlling rebounds. He was just calm in there. Not that he's not always like that, but there are certain times when you can just tell. You know, you talk about being in a zone, and that was a good example. He was just concentrating on what he had to do, and he was pretty calm and collected."
The Penguins needed Fleury to be as good as he was because they were in a steady procession to the penalty box, surrendering eight power plays, and they were outplayed for most of the 60 hell-bent minutes. With only 26 shots, Pittsburgh was not pressuring the Flyers enough to build a cushion for the goalie.
"We were in the penalty box a little more than we like to be," Crosby said. "They have a great power play, and our killers did one heck of a job. Flower came through for us, but we'd give ourselves a better chance not to give up so many power plays."
Some of Fleury's most dazzling saves came during the second period. He snatched a laser shot by Simon Gagne, who had 13 goals in his 22 previous games against the Penguins. After Fleury's save, Gagne gave him one of those how-did-he-do-that looks.
Later in the period, Fleury ate up dangerous shots by Claude Giroux and Darroll Powe, stopping Powe's shot with his glove while Mike Knuble was practically in his lap. During a third-period Flyers power play, Fleury quickly sealed off the corner on Danny Briere.
There were more terrific saves. Many more as Fleury dispelled the Flyers' hope that maybe they had him after he surrendered five goals in Sunday's 6-3 win (one goal was an empty-netter). Fleury hadn't allowed five since Feb. 22.
Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at 215-854-2743 or email@example.com.