It seems that the more rubber Marc-Andre Fleury faces, the better he plays.
The veteran goalkeeper, in his 10th straight start with Robin Lehner offside with an upper body injury, stopped 36 shots Wednesday as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated visiting Minnesota 5-1.
The Golden Knights are scheduled to open a two-game series in San Jose on Friday night. The teams will meet again on Saturday.
“The more you play, you go out to play and you don’t think so much,” said Fleury, whose 11 wins this season rank third in the NHL behind Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and Toronto’s Frederik Andersen. “You react to what’s happening in front of you. You just wait longer for the album. The game slows down a bit, so it’s been good.”
Fleury, who topped Gump Worsley for 12th all-time among goalkeepers with 861 games played, has limited opponents to two goals or less in 10 of his 14 appearances.
Fleury allowed a season-high four goals in a 5-4 overtime win against the Wild on Monday, but appeared to learn from his mistakes.
“Obviously, it didn’t go the way I wanted (Monday),” Fleury said. “It was good to get to know them a bit, to know their tendencies. I don’t think you can plan too much. You just have to be patient.”
Mark Stone, Alex Tuch, Chandler Stephenson and William Karlsson each had a goal and an assist for Vegas, which maintained its one-point lead over St. Louis in the Western Division. The Golden Knights, who are 14-4-1, have four games in hand against the Blues.
“We know that every game is huge, especially when every game is in the division,” said Tuch, who is second in the Golden Knights with nine goals, one behind Max Pacioretty. “I thought we put together a good 60 minutes.”
Tuch, who was selected No. 18 overall by Minnesota in the 2014 NHL draft, was traded to Las Vegas in the 2017 expansion draft for the Golden Knights to select forward Erik Haula from The Wild.
“It’s been the same since first year. Whenever we play those other teams, we have that chip on our shoulder,” Tuch said. “I like playing the Wilds. It was a lot of fun beating them, that’s for sure.”
The Sharks fell to 1-3-0 in their current seven-game home run with a 4-0 loss to Colorado on Wednesday. They couldn’t contain the Avalanche top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, who combined for nine points.
The Sharks had scored six goals in each of their two previous games before being shut out by Philipp Grubauer of Colorado.
“There was nothing I could do,” San Jose coach Bob Boughner said. “The second goal really took the wind away from us. When you don’t have that team defend, they have a lot of juice on offense.”
Martin Jones made 34 saves for the Sharks, who fell to 8-10-2.
“We want to beat that .500 mark,” San Jose defender Mario Ferraro said. “We have to rack up some wins, but we don’t want to get frustrated with each other. With these (two-game series), it’s harder to win.”
– Field level media
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.