Marc-Andre Fleury has made 21,145 saves in a career that most likely will end with him being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He might never have another one like he did Tuesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at T-Mobile Arena.
With the Knights leading 3-2 with less than four minutes remaining, Maple Leafs right wing Ilya Mikheyev hit the post with a shot. The rebound bounced to center Nic Petan, who threw a backhand shot on a largely empty net for what looked to be his first goal of the season.
Marc-Andre Fleury turned aside 31 shots, including this highlight-reel save, to become the seventh goaltender in NHL history to win 450 games. #NHLStats https://t.co/0HEsCof6iU pic.twitter.com/aRuiwpCrMO
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 20, 2019
But Fleury had other ideas. The 34-year-old, starting from the top of his crease, dived back and snared the puck out of the air with his glove with 3:43 to play. The spectacular save kept the Knights ahead, and they went on to win 4-2 for their second straight victory.
Did you see that Fleury save?
Is that save of the year material?
— Golden Edge (@HockeyinVegas) November 20, 2019
“I just enjoyed it,” Fleury said. “I got a little giggle, a little smile. Just happy it didn’t go in. As a goalie, those are the saves that make you feel (like a skater feels when they score a goal). Those are the saves I love to play for. It’s fun to do.”
The save caused immediate speculation on where it ranked all time in Fleury’s career. His agent, Allan Walsh, dubbed it “the save of the century” on Twitter.
THE SAVE OF THE CENTURY!! https://t.co/GErkGBMq5x
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) November 20, 2019
But Fleury said it wasn’t his best save. He maintains his best was the one he made on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom to seal Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
Fleury dived to his right to deny the Hall of Famer with 1.5 seconds remaining and win the first of his three Stanley Cups.
”When you win a Cup after a save, you really can’t beat that,” Fleury said.
— Chance (@ChanceNHL) November 20, 2019
Still, Tuesday’s stop deserves a prominent place in Fleury’s career highlight reel. Just ask the players he shared the ice with.
“I don’t know what kind of a bounce that puck took. I’m not sure if it went off the boards or the ref or just kicked right out, but he’s got our back and he’s unbelievable,” defenseman Shea Theodore said.
Added center Tomas Nosek: “I was like, ‘Wow! What’s going on?’ Another Flower save again. He was unbelievable tonight. He saved our (butts) again.”
Rookie Cody Glass said he didn’t know what to say afterward. It’s safe to assume the 20-year-old never had seen a save like it.
— David Schoen 📰🗞🏒 (@DavidSchoenLVRJ) November 20, 2019
“It was incredible,” Glass said. “He keeps us in every game.”
The Maple Leafs, while disappointed with the outcome, admired the play, too. Goaltender Frederik Andersen said “I got outplayed.” Left wing Zach Hyman said it was a “big save,” and coach Mike Babcock also was impressed.
“I thought the net was empty there,” Babcock said. “Fleury made a great save on (it).”
It wasn’t the first time Fleury has fooled his opponent with his ability to make up ground, but he might never surprise a team that much again. He surprised the entire hockey world Tuesday — and won his 450th game in the process.
“He’s pretty incredible when he makes saves like that,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s acrobatic and never gives up on the puck.”