PITTSBURGH

Mike Sullivan calls the energetic back-and-forth on the Pittsburgh Penguins bench “a man’s argument.”

If his players have something to say, Sullivan wants them to get it out. Enter Phil Kessel, the mercurial forward with the blistering shot and occasionally blistering tongue.

Frustrated by an inability to get anything by Ottawa’s Craig Anderson, cameras caught Kessel pounding his fists and ordering his teammates to look for him.

Consider the message delivered. Kessel took a feed from Evgeni Malkin and zipped a wrist shot by Anderson 13:05 into the third period as the Penguins evened the Eastern Conference final with a 1-0 victory in Game 2 on Monday night. Game 3 is Wednesday in Ottawa.

“To be honest I think I yelled more than once tonight, so I don’t remember that time,” Kessel said with a laugh.

That’s just Kessel being Kessel. If anything, his outburst was simply the physical manifestation of Sullivan’s order to stop looking for the perfect shot and just start peppering Anderson looking for a sliver of space. The moment came with just less than 7 minutes remaining when Malkin gained the zone and found Kessel in the slot.

Kessel’s first shot smacked off Jean Gabriel Pagueau and came right back to him. It happened so quickly Anderson didn’t have enough time to reset, his left pad flailing as Pittsburgh’s game-long domination finally resulted in something tangible: a lead and a tie series.

That was enough for Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 23 shots for his second shutout of the playoffs and 10th of his postseason career. Fleury’s 62nd playoff win moved him ahead of Henrik Lundqvist for the most by an active goaltender, heady territory for a guy who lost his starting job to Matt Murray during the course of the season. Now Fleury is the main reason the Penguins are three wins from a return trip to the Cup finals.

This victory, however, wasn’t the byproduct of 60 minutes of brilliance. Fleury spent long stretches with nothing to do as the Penguins hemmed Ottawa in its own end.



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