Marc-Andre Fleury chickened out.
The Golden Knights goaltender gathered the puck behind his net late in the third period of Saturday’s 3-1 victory at San Jose and positioned himself for a shot toward the empty net at the other end of the rink.
But when Fleury looked up, he saw one Sharks player at the opposing blue line and forward Kevin Labanc coming hard on the forecheck, so he banked a pass off the boards to defenseman Brayden McNabb instead.
“Now’s the time to do it! It would have been perfect,” coach Gerard Gallant said afterward. “But obviously he said the lane was taken away, so he passed up on it. It’s fun. He has fun in the net, and it was good to see him play (Saturday) and play as well as he did. It’s good for him, good for our team.”
Fleury made his preseason debut against the Sharks and finished with 28 saves. He nearly picked up an assist with a little more than six minutes remaining in the third period when he sent a home-run pass toward Nicolas Roy, who was exiting the penalty box.
Roy lost the puck on the breakaway and was unable to get off a shot.
Fleury is expected to start one of the Knights’ final three preseason games.
“He’s our leader. When we got him two years ago in the expansion draft, he was our leader then and he’s still our leader today,” Gallant said. “Our guys love competing and playing hard for him. He has fun every day. He has fun in the net, and in big games he has fun. He enjoys himself in there. It’s a big part of our crew.”
Goalies head to minors
Goaltenders Oscar Dansk and Garret Sparks cleared waivers Sunday and were reassigned to the American Hockey League. They will compete to become the starter for the Chicago Wolves.
Dansk made 36 saves in Thursday’s 3-2 overtime victory at Los Angeles in his lone preseason start. He spent the past two seasons with the Knights’ minor league affiliate and backstopped the Wolves to the Calder Cup Finals last season.
Sparks blanked Colorado 5-0 on Tuesday in his only appearance with the Knights, turning aside 24 shots.
The Elmhurst, Illinois, native is 80-28-5 with eight shutouts and a 2.12 goals-against average in 121 career AHL appearances. He was named the AHL’s outstanding goaltender for the 2017-18 season with Toronto.
Sept. 15: Golden Knights 6, Arizona 2
Sept. 17: Golden Knights 5, Colorado 0
Sept. 19: Golden Knights 3, Los Angeles 2 (OT)
Sept. 21: Golden Knights 3, San Jose 1
Wednesday: vs. Colorado, 7 p.m.
Friday: vs. Los Angeles, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
Sunday: vs. San Jose, 5 p.m. (NHL Network)
All games broadcast on KTNV-13