PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins started defense of their Stanley Cup championship without their captain and Stanley Cup-clinching goaltender, but that hasn’t been a problem thanks to Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury made 33 saves, including several quality third-period stops while the Anaheim Ducks pressed for the tying goal, allowing Phil Kessel’s power-play goal in the second to stand as the game-winner in the Penguins’ 3-2 victory Saturday night.
“They threw a lot of pucks at the net from anywhere,” Fleury said. “They had guys around the net trying to screen and tip, but it worked out all right in the end.”
It has worked out for Fleury, too.
Fleury, who led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in 2009, lost his starting job to Matt Murray after sustaining the second of two concussions late in the regular season last spring. That opened the door for the 22-year-old Murray to backstop the Penguins to their fourth Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Murray, however, broke his hand during the World Cup of Hockey and Fleury has stepped up in his absence, stopping 73 of 77 shots in two wins.
“We’re not surprised by it,” defenseman Trevor Daley said. “That’s just Marc, that’s the way he is. He’s a great goalie.”
Ian Cole and Conor Sheary also scored for the defending champion Penguins, who won their fourth straight home game against Anaheim and are 6-1 in their last seven games overall against the Ducks.
Chris Kunitz got his 200th assist with the Penguins in his 500th game with the team. Kunitz, who was acquired from Anaheim in 2009, became the 18th player and fifth active to play 500 games with Pittsburgh.
Anaheim’s Corey Perry scored his first of the season and 13th goal in 14 games against Pittsburgh. Cam Fowler scored on the power play for the Ducks, who haven’t won in Pittsburgh in more than four years.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 42 shots in his debut with the Ducks after being acquired from Toronto in the offseason. Bernier got the start over Pittsburgh native John Gibson, who allowed six goals during each of the previous two starts in his hometown.
“We knew it would be a quick game with their speed and the way they like to play,” Perry said. “I thought we had a great start, but I thought we relaxed a little bit in the first period and they took it to us. We had to start playing catch-up.”
Crosby remains day-to-day with a concussion sustained during practice last week. The Conn Smythe Trophy winner missed practice Friday, but skated on his own Saturday morning before sitting out the team’s optional morning skate.
Evgeni Malkin, the 2011-12 NHL MVP, had one assist to help the Penguins improve to 96-49-18 in 163 regular-season games without Crosby.
The Ducks are still looking for their first win under returning coach Randy Carlyle, who is back on the bench for his second stint with the team. Carlyle, who was with the team from 2005-11, is the Ducks’ all-time winningest coach and led the franchise to a Stanley Cup in 2007.
“To me, it’s too early,” Carlyle said. “Our team’s not playing to the level that’s required right now from our group.”
Fleury turned aside 12 shots in the first 10 minutes, including a sharp pad save on Chris Wagner from the top of the crease. That allowed Cole to put the Penguins in front with a seeing-eye shot from the point.
The Ducks tied it soon after, cashing in on a two-man advantage, as Fowler beat Fleury with a slap shot from the right faceoff dot.
Sheary’s goal early in the second period gave the Penguins a 2-1 lead. Bernier misplayed the puck along the side of the net and Sheary scored after a scrum in front.
“The puck was kind of bouncing around the crease,” Sheary said. “The ref had a good angle and I’m glad he didn’t blow it down because Bernier didn’t have possession. I kind of whacked away at it and it went in.”
Kessel extended the lead with a power-play goal, but Perry cut the deficit to 3-2 less than three minutes later. Fleury made the initial pad save off the faceoff, but Perry scored on the rebound.
Fleury shut the door the rest of the way.
“I thought Marc was great and he made some timely saves when we broke down,” Penguins’ coach Mike Sullivan said.
NOTES: The Penguins paid tribute to players from the franchise’s first decade on Saturday as part of a 50th-season celebration. … Anaheim scratched Clayton Stoner, Simon Despres and Emerson Etem. Derrick Pouliot and Matt Murray were scratched for Pittsburgh.
Ducks: Continue a season-opening five-game road swing at the New York Islanders on Sunday.
Penguins: Host Colorado on Monday.