At some point in their busy schedule, the Golden Knights will have to find a way to rest Marc-Andre Fleury.
For now, they’ll keep riding the workhorse goaltender.
Fleury made his 10th consecutive start and backstopped the Knights to a 4-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday with 22 saves.
“I don’t have a magic number of games that’s perfect,” Fleury said. “The schedule has been a little busy lately. Maybe that’s why it feels like I’m playing a lot. I try to rest. I try to be smart about my body when I can.”
William Karlsson had the go-ahead goal in the second period, and Alex Tuch, Ryan Carpenter and Reilly Smith (empty net) also scored. Defenseman Colin Miller finished with two assists, as 10 players recorded a point for the Knights.
The Knights improved to 10-3-1 at T-Mobile Arena with their fifth straight home win. They won for the eighth time in 10 games overall to move into a virtual tie for third place with San Jose in the Pacific Division heading into a four-game road trip that starts Wednesday against the New York Islanders.
“It’s good to have a win going on the road,” Karlsson said. “You don’t want to have back-to-back losses and feel kind of (bad) going to New York. This was huge and it gives us a lot of energy.”
Fleury played the second game of a back-to-back for the second time this season and earned his league-high 17th victory, one more than Toronto’s Frederik Andersen. He tops all NHL goaltenders with 28 starts.
Fleury and New Jersey’s Keith Kinkaid are the only goaltenders to have all of their team’s wins.
The Knights alternated goaltenders the first three back-to-back scenarios this season, with Malcolm Subban taking the second game each time.
But Subban owns an 0-4 record and 4.02 goals-against average in five appearances, and he hasn’t played since a 7-2 loss at Calgary on Nov. 19.
Fleury is 8-2 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in his past 10 games.
He won for the second time in three starts with his gold pads and made key stops on Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin during the second period.
“I think it was just the rest time between games,” Fleury said. “We played (Saturday), but it was in L.A., so quick flight and got home pretty early and got a good night sleep. The other one, too, it was the same thing. It was an afternoon game and I had a lot of time to rest, so it’s not as bad as playing two nights in a row.”
The Knights responded after Saturday’s 5-1 loss at Los Angeles, when they had trouble breaking out of their zone and connecting on more than two consecutive passes.
Karlsson put the Knights on top 2-1 at 11:48 of the second period when he zipped a low shot past Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop. It was Karlsson’s 10th goal, and he tied Jonathan Marchessault for the team lead in scoring with his 23rd point.
“First (period) wasn’t bad, but I think we cranked it up a notch in the second,” Karlsson said. “We got two almost power-play goals and that kind of paved the way for the rest of the game.”
Tuch’s 10th goal with 1:43 left in the second proved to be the game-winner. He lifted Dallas defenseman Taylor Fedun’s stick to win a battle in front, and his shot dribbled through Bishop’s legs.
“I thought all 20 guys came in and played really hard and worked really hard,” Tuch said, “and it showed on the scoresheet.”
Esa Lindell tapped in a pass from Jason Spezza at 8:33 of the third period to cut the Knights’ lead to 3-2.
Martin Hanzal opened the scoring in the first period when he redirected Miro Heiskanen’s shot past Fleury at 6:29.
Dallas, which saw its four-game win streak come to an end, went 2-for-4 on the power play.
“(Saturday) was not a good game for anybody on the team,” Fleury said. “It was good that we got to put it behind us quickly and move on, come home and got a big win against a good team.”