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Dunlap: Maybe Zatkoff's Best Game Was His Last One

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) - The part that fascinates me most about Jeff Zatkoff might be that we potentially could never see him again.

We might never see him in that crease again wearing a Penguins sweater.

We might never see him again flashing the brilliance he did in such an important situation on Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.

We might never again seem him being celebrated and mobbed by his Pittsburgh teammates the way he was after Wednesday night's win, when so many fans and media types doubted he had any chance to earn such a victory.

Yeah --- that's the fascinating part for me. Wednesday night might have been Zatkoff's final game in a Penguins uniform.

And if it works out that way, what a hell of a way to go out.

What a swan song.

What a way to end it.

You see, as the backup to the backup and with a contract set to expire at the end of this season, there probably isn't much room for Zatkoff in the long-term.

It would appear obvious that Marc-Andre Fleury is the mainstay as the Penguins' No. 1 guy with youngsters Matt Murray --- and then Tristan Jarry --- waiting in the wings.

That probably doesn't leave much room for a 28-year-old guy who has played sporadically for this franchise.

Anyone can see all that writing on the wall.

In the short term, there probably isn't much room for Zatkoff, either.

No matter what argument you want to throw at me, I'm not buying anything other than if Fleury is anywhere close to 100 percent on Saturday, he needs to be the guy against the Rangers in Game 2.

He is the Penguins��� present and future. He is a guy who got them here this season. He is the guy who deserves to play if he's within even a shadow of being 100 percent.

Fleury is the guy you pay the big bucks to and Fleury is the guy who plays in the games of most consequence.

End of story.

So, that would relegate Zatkoff --- presuming Murray is still dinged up --- to a bench role in Game 2.

But back to Game 1 for a moment …

All those words typed above this in this column are things that Zatkoff already knew when he stepped out on that ice on Wednesday night as the building rocked in a playoff game.

Actually, he has known it for quite some time.

He had to know, when he saw his name continue to fall on the depth chart, that his footing within the organization was a bit precarious.

And, again, that's what makes his 35-save gem against the Rangers so darn intriguing to me.

Jeff Zatkoff --- quite literally --- might have saved his best Penguins performance for his last one.

It's one both he and Penguins fans will remember for quite some time.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 "The Fan." You can email him at Check out his bio here.

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