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Golden Knights win 7th straight as Marc-Andre Fleury blanks Oilers

Updated February 27, 2020 - 12:51 am

Marc-Andre Fleury barely had time to put on his mask after the national anthems before he was called on to make an important save.

Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl found room near the right faceoff circle and forced Fleury into a lunging pad save 15 seconds into the game.

It was a sign of things to come.

Fleury turned away all 29 shots for his fifth shutout, and the Golden Knights opened their four-game homestand with a 3-0 victory over Edmonton on Wednesday in front of an announced crowd of 18,421 at T-Mobile Arena.

“He was dialed in, and that’s vintage Flower,” coach Pete DeBoer said.

Nick Cousins scored in his debut, and Max Pacioretty collected his 30th goal to help the Knights (35-22-8, 78 points) win their seventh straight and extend their lead in the Pacific Division to four points over the Oilers and idle Vancouver.

Fleury made his first start since the Knights acquired goalie Robin Lehner at Monday’s trade deadline and turned in an inspired performance.

He held the Knights in the game during the first period with 12 saves and improved to 5-0 since turning to the gold pads.

Fleury tied Columbus’ Elvis Merzlikins for the league lead in shutouts and also matched Turk Broda for 17th on the all-time list with his 61st career shutout.

“That was a big game. That was fun to be a part of,” Fleury said. “A good challenge for us, and I thought we (rose) up good.”

Here’s what stood out from the Knights’ win:

Thirtysomething

Pacioretty looked like that viral video of the javelina sprinting down the street in Arizona on his first-period goal, which came after Edmonton had the Knights on their heels from the opening faceoff.

Pacioretty picked up the puck near his own blue line, blew past Oilers forward Tyler Ennis in the neutral zone and continued down the right wing.

Defenseman Darnell Nurse didn’t close the gap, and Pacioretty snapped a shot to the short-side post that beat Edmonton goaltender Mikko Koskinen at 16:04.

The all-star wing reached the 30-goal mark for the sixth time in his career and first since 2016-17 with Montreal. He has 62 points (through first period), five shy of his career high.

“You just try to put it there and hope for the best,” Pacioretty said. “Sometimes goalies give up a little bit on the short side there and that was the case.”

First impressions

It’s getting comical at this point.

Cousins became the sixth player this season to score in his Knights debut, joining Cody Glass, Nicolas Roy, Chandler Stephenson, Alec Martinez and Patrick Brown.

Cousins was acquired at the trade deadline from Montreal and didn’t arrive in time to participate in the morning skate Wednesday while he worked out his visa issues. He centered William Carrier and Ryan Reaves after starting out the game on the third line.

Cousins also saw time on the second power play unit and backhanded home a rebound at 5:44 of the third period for his 10th goal to give the Knights some breathing room.

“In the first period there, head was spinning a little bit with all the travel and stuff like that,” Cousins said. “I felt better as the game went on and obviously nice to contribute because these guys are playing well.”

Lockdown defense

Connor McDavid and Draisaitl terrorized the Knights during their careers, combining for 10 goals and 28 points in their first nine meetings.

But the Knights’ new defense pairs did the job, holding the dynamic duo in check.

Shea Theodore and Martinez drew the assignment against McDavid’s line, while Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt were matched up primarily against Draisaitl.

The Knights allowed five total shots on goal in the second period, and the Oilers had one shot on goal from the 11:32 mark of the second period until 7:08 remained in the third.

“We knew where they were on the ice and made sure to take their time and space away,” DeBoer said. “There were some long stretches there where we really didn’t give them a lot.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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