Marc-Andre Fleury has been excited about one recreation for fairly some time.
And Thursday night time he rose to the problem.
Fleury stopped 24 photographs towards his former staff and Jon Merrill’s first objective of the season snapped a 3rd-interval tie because the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1.
James Neal scored his fifteenth aim of the season for Vegas, whereas Ian Cole scored Pittsburgh’s objective.
It was the primary assembly between the defending Stanley Cup champions and Vegas, which acquired Fleury from Pittsburgh in the course of the NHL enlargement draft on June 21.
“Slightly relieving a bit,” Fleury stated after beating the staff that took him with the No. 1 decide within the 2003 draft. “Ending up with the 2 factors, it is massive. Nonetheless acquired one other one to go (in Pittsburgh). I am glad it is over and we obtained the win.”
The matchup between the Penguins and Fleury was arguably probably the most anticipated recreation towards a former Penguin since Jaromir Jagr performed towards Pittsburgh on Dec. eleven, 2001, for the primary time after his commerce to Washington.
Fleury, who returned to the ice Tuesday in a loss to Carolina after lacking 25 video games, wasted no time in reminding Pittsburgh what it let get away. He bolted from the crease early within the first interval, skated to the blue line, and dove head first to poke the puck away from the streaking Penguins.
The thirteen-yr veteran goaltender appeared sharp all through the night time, with a number of extra spectacular saves, together with a lunging cease together with his chest that thwarted Brian Dumoulin’s wrist shot late within the second interval.
“I assumed the goaltending at each ends of the rink was actually good,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan stated. “It looks like these are the varieties of video games that we’re in night time in and night time out and we’ve not discovered methods to win these. And that is what we’ve to do.”
After lacking six straight video games on account of a decrease-physique damage, the Penguins activated goalie Matt Murray off injured reserve in time to face his mentor, Fleury.
Murray, who stopped 24 photographs, had his private regulation dropping streak prolong to 4 video games, the longest of his profession.
“They only work so onerous and that is the place they caught us unexpectedly, particularly on the forecheck,” Murray stated. “They’re undoubtedly a tough-working group and quick group, good in transition. I do not assume they do something particular, however they only work extraordinarily onerous and I feel that is why they’re having success.”
In the meantime, two-time Hart Memorial recipient Sidney Crosby acknowledged it was unusual taking photographs at his shut good friend Fleury, after the 2 performed collectively for 12 seasons.
“You see him there, it is somewhat totally different however as soon as get into play, you are enjoying,” Crosby stated. “It is the primary time enjoying towards one another and that is to be anticipated. Each goalies have been good, it was simply a type of video games they usually discovered a solution to get that final one within the third.”
Vegas wasted no time in giving Fleury an early lead, when Neal’s rebound off Colin Miller’s wrist shot discovered its well beyond Murray lower than two minutes into the sport.
The Penguins tied it later within the interval when Carl Hagelin discovered Cole, who beat Fleury prime shelf from simply behind the objective line for his second aim of the season.
Merrill’s one-timer put the Knights forward with eleven minutes left within the recreation, slapping Erik Haula’s move between Murray’s glove and left pad.
“I stored telling myself I’ve acquired to attain, I’ve acquired to do one thing,” stated Merrill, who was enjoying in simply his sixth recreation this season. “I made a presence for myself and I am actually completely satisfied I used to be in a position to try this tonight.”
Merrill’s aim earlier than a crowd of 18,029 helped the Golden Knights enhance to 12-2-1 at house, whereas shifting them one level behind Los Angeles within the Pacific Division, forty three-forty two.
“He is been an actual soldier for us, and to get that aim, everybody was actual completely happy for him,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant stated. “I feel from the drop of the puck to the top of the sport, it was a reasonably even recreation. We performed an excellent hockey recreation. Nice goaltending on each ends. It is enjoyable, and the blokes performed onerous. Our guys confirmed up for it.”
The Golden Knights turned the quickest group to twenty wins in NHL historical past. … Vegas D Deryk Engelland’s subsequent recreation would be the five hundredth of his profession. … Engelland, Fleury, James Neal, and David Perron have all performed for the Penguins throughout their careers. … Crosby is 5 objectives away from notching the four-hundredth in his profession. … Crosby has at the very least one level in 10 of his final 14 video games, with eight objectives and eleven assists. … Thursday was the primary street recreation of a 3-recreation journey for Pittsburgh, and first since Dec. 1. … The Penguins dropped to four-eight-1 on the freeway this season.
Pittsburgh: Visits Arizona on Saturday.
Vegas: Hosts Florida on Sunday.