PHILADELPHIA — Marc-Andre Fleury has a great appreciation for hockey history.
He also enjoys making some history of his own.
Fleury’s stellar performance Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center put the 33-year-old goaltender in select company as he became just the 13th goalie to reach 400 wins in his NHL career after he stopped 38 shots and led the Golden Knights to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
“It’s nice,” he said of the achievement. “Maybe it’s something I’ll be more proud of when I’m done. But I’m still playing so I’m looking forward to the next game.”
Among those Fleury joined in the 400-win club were Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and current contemporaries Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist.
“It’s a nice number to reach and all the guys in front of me I have great respect for and it’s cool to be part of that list,” Fleury said.
It took some grit on the part of Fleury’s teammates to help him get the win as the Knights wrapped up their five-game road trip 4-1. Coach Gerard Gallant had shortened his bench and moved Pierre-Edouard Bellemare up to play with Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter late in the game. The trio forechecked effectively, pressuring the Philadelphia defense and maintaining possession which led to Carpenter getting the puck from Eakin and beating Flyers goaltender Petr Mrazek with 2:40 to play.
“Those are the ones you practice and it’s nice when you bury them in the game,” Carpenter said of his winner, which was his eighth goal of the season. “But if it wasn’t for ‘Flower,’ we wouldn’t have won the game.”
The Knights had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 on goals from Erik Haula and William Karlsson, both coming on the power play. Haula’s first-period goal was the result of trying to make a pass from behind the Flyers net and seeing the puck go off Mrazek and in for his 25th of the season. Karlsson’s goal, his team-leading 36th, came six minutes into the third period after he put home the rebound of Shea Theodore’s shot from the point.
Though the Flyers solved him twice as Claude Giroux tied it 1-1 in the first period and Wayne Simmonds made it 2-2 in the third, Fleury frustrated the Flyers and the announced crowd of 19,723. He robbed Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom late in the second period with consecutive saves from close range. Then he denied Travis Sanheim from the slot early in the third period with a great glove save.
“He had some time in the slot and I just tried to react to it and catch it,” Fleury said of the theft of Sanheim, which was arguably the best of the 38 saves he made Monday.
In the brief time he has coached Fleury, Gallant has learned to appreciate what a special talent he has in the crease.
“It was great. He played an awesome game tonight and he won the last three games on the road trip,” Gallant said. “To get his 400th win is a tremendous accomplishment. I hope we’re around for 500.
“Marc was the difference in the game but I thought our team played real well tonight.”
Fleury was glad the attempt to reach the milestone didn’t linger. He didn’t want it to become an overriding issue with the team as the Knights (45-19-5, 95 points) are looking to lock up the Pacific Division title and get as high a seed in the Western Conference as possible with just 13 games remaining.
“The last few days the media has asked about it and talked about it,” he said. “I’m happy I don’t have to think about it any more. We’re done with it and we can move forward.”