First NHL start since Dec. 9

Updated: January 16, 2004, 4:02 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, coming off a disappointing finish to the World Junior Championship, will make his first NHL start since Dec. 9 at Minnesota on Friday night.

Fleury rejoined the Penguins on Sunday, but Jean-Sebastien Aubin was in goal for the Penguins' 2-1 victory Monday at Philadelphia and 3-1 loss Tuesday to Tampa Bay.

Fleury, the top pick in June's NHL draft, spent most of December and the first week of January with Canada's silver-medalist junior team. Fleury allowed the winning goal in a 4-3 championship game loss to the United States when his clearing attempt banked off a teammate and into his own net.

The rookie last played for the Penguins in a 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Dec. 9, two days before he joined the Canadian team. His record has dropped to 4-10-2, with eight losses in nine games. He has a 3.20 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.

U.S. junior coach Mike Eaves, a former Penguins assistant, was impressed with Fleury despite the gold-medal game loss. Eaves offered some advice to Fleury as he resumes his NHL career.

"What he needs to do is take a lesson from the game, from the tournament, and help project him to the level that he wants to play in the National Hockey League now," Eaves said. "If you can look at things that he can control, that's what he can control with that experience. How is that going to make me a better goaltender at the next level?"


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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