When the Golden Knights selected Marc-Andre Fleury in the expansion draft, it was with the hope they would be playing hockey in mid-April.
And if they did, Fleury — a man with three Stanley Cup rings — was the guy the Knights would want in goal. He had 63 playoff wins going into Friday’s Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Kings, and that experience would come in handy as the Kings, looking for a split at T-Mobile Arena, battled the Knights.
Fleury and his counterpart, Jonathan Quick, continued their high level of play. But only one goalie can come out on top in the playoffs, and that was Fleury as the Knights won 2-1 in the second overtime on Erik Haula’s goal with 4:37 left.
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“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Fleury said. “But it was fun to see the fans cheering us on, and it was a big win.
“Obviously, we’ll enjoy tonight. But there’s still work to do in LA.”
Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Sunday at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The 33-year-old has delivered for the Knights. He posted a shutout in Game 1. On Friday, he was finally beaten in the second period as the Kings scored a power-play goal that appeared to glance off defenseman Deryk Engelland.
Fleury has been getting good support from his defensemen, and the forwards have been backchecking. And when the Kings have had opportunities in close, Fleury has been there. The Kings had just 30 shots at him for the night.
But he got tested in the third period when Anze Kopitar forced a turnover from William Karlsson and walked in down the right side. Fleury made a chest save to keep it a 1-1 game with 5:22 to play in regulation.
Fleury faced 20 shots through the first 60 minutes. Early in overtime, he had a scare as Kopitar was alone in front but somehow missed the net.
Just over seven minutes in, Fleury got a glove on Dustin Brown’s rising wrist shot from the left faceoff circle. He also got a piece of Tyler Toffoli’s shot during a Kings power play while Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was serving a delay-of-game penalty after he shot the puck over the glass 9:07 into OT.
He was hardly tested in the second OT — and was the goaltender who celebrated as Haula beat Quick for the game-winner.
“I’ve had another long one before, but it was good to see the fans stick around, and I’m happy we were able to get them the win,” Fleury said.