(AP) — The Vegas Golden Knights stuck to a true rotation for their goaltenders down the stretch of the season, alternating Marc-Andre Fleury without much dropoff in performance to Robin Lehner.
Keeping the 36-year-old Fleury fresh has proven to be a winning strategy for coach Peter DeBoer, who has watched the three-time Stanley Cup champion stop 63 of 65 shots on goal for the Minnesota Wild over the first two games of this first round West Division series that’s tied at 1-1.READ MORE: Minnesota Wild Assistant GM, Fmr. UMD Player Tom Kurvers Dies At 58
Game 3 is Thursday night in Minnesota (9:30 p.m. EDT, NBC Sports Network), after the Wild gained a split on the Las Vegas Strip.
“We’re taking this day to day,” DeBoer said Wednesday, declining to commit to keeping Fleury in the net. “He’s done it before and he’s playing at a really high level, so maybe. But who knows?”
What’s clear is how well Fleury, who recently moved into third place on the NHL’s all-time wins list, has played for a Golden Knights team that again has Stanley Cup aspirations. Fleury has won three of those, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he helped Vegas get to the finals in 2018 in its inaugural season.
Fleury, who posted a career-best 1.98 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 2021, has allowed two goals or fewer in 11 straight games since April 11 to match the longest such stretch of his stellar career.READ MORE: Minnesota Wild Name St. Paul Native Ray Shero Senior Advisor To GM Bill Guerin
“Our guys have been great at letting me see the puck, and when I don’t, most of the time they block it,” Fleury said. “I thought our defense has done a great job with that.”
The Golden Knights lost forward Tomas Nosek to an injury in Game 2 and have been without star Max Pacioretty for nearly three weeks. DeBoer said he’s making progress and “would still term him day to day.”
The Wild, who won 1-0 in Game 1 on an overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek, preached a stay-the-course mentality after losing 3-1 in Game 2. Leading scorer Kirill Kaprizov has been blanketed by the Golden Knights defense. Second-leading scorer Kevin Fiala has skated his way to several prime scoring chances but yet to see the puck go in.
“Just keep pushing, keep pushing, and I feel comfortable for the whole team that we are going to score goals,” Fiala said. “So I don’t think we have to change anything.”MORE NEWS: Wild GM, Coach Praise Zach Parise For How He Handled Benching
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