Marc-Andre Fleury’s favorite save always will be the one he made in the dying seconds of Game 7 to clinch the Stanley Cup in 2009.
But the one he made Tuesday night to help clinch his 450th career victory is high on the list.
Fleury dived across his crease to glove Nic Petan’s shot late in the third period and preserve the Golden Knights’ 4-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at T-Mobile Arena.
“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.”
Fleury finished with 31 saves to help the Knights win their second straight, but none was bigger than his stop on Petan with 3:43 remaining.
With the Knights clinging to a 3-2 lead, Toronto’s Ilya Mikheyev sailed down the left wing and his shot hit the crossbar. Fleury looked behind him to see if the puck went in and realized the rebound went to Petan below the right faceoff dot.
Petan didn’t get all of his backhand attempt, but Fleury made a Superman leap to his left to keep the puck out.
“It hit the post, and I wasn’t sure if it went in, so I turned and found it. I knew there was a lot of net,” Fleury said. “It’s good when you get those second opportunities to redeem yourself. It was certainly a lot of fun.”
Cody Glass finished with a goal and an assist, and Max Pacioretty added two assists for the Knights.
Here’s what stood out from the Knights’ win:
1. Redemption for Nosek.
Tomas Nosek spent time in Gallant’s doghouse recently but came up with the go-ahead goal in the third period. It was his first tally since Oct. 12 against Calgary.
“I needed it,” Nosek said.
Nosek had a breakaway with about a minute remaining in the first period but whiffed on his shot. He got another chance after creating a turnover in the neutral zone and buried it at 8:08 of the third period, going to the backhand to beat Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen.
Nosek’s goal came 42 seconds after Toronto’s Jason Spezza tied the score at 1.
“I was overthinking the first one,” Nosek said. “I wanted to do the same move that I did the second time on the first one, but at the last moment I saw there was room on the blocker and I decided to shoot, and you see what happened.”
2. Activate, power play.
The Knights’ power play was mired in a 3-for-22 slump but broke out against the Maple Leafs, finishing 2-for-2.
Glass scored his fourth goal on a power play at 8:07 of the second period to give the Knights a 1-0 lead when he cleaned up a rebound in the crease after Andersen couldn’t handle Pacioretty’s drive.
“I had two games in a row where I missed empty nets, pretty much,” Glass said. “If I didn’t put that one in, I didn’t know if I was going to score again. So, it was nice to put that one in and get the monkey off the back.”
Mark Stone scored what proved to be the winning goal with the man advantage in the third period to give the Knights a 3-1 lead.
3. Feeling blue.
A large number of Toronto fans were in the building and did their best to inspire the visitors, starting a “Go Leafs Go” chant during the pregame show.
The Maple Leafs opened the first period on a positive note and enjoyed plenty of time in the offensive zone, but gave up the first goal for the 18th time in 23 games and faded in the second period before making a late push.
Toronto showed more effort after holding a players-only meeting following Saturday’s 6-1 loss at Pittsburgh. They’ve lost six straight (0-5-1), and speculation continues to swirl around coach Mike Babcock’s job security.