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Fleury Victorious in Return, Golden Knights Offense Struggles, Lose to Blackhawks 2-1



Marc-Andre Fleury return to Vegas Golden Knights (Photo- Chicago Blackhawks via Twitter)

The Vegas Golden Knights (23-14-1) struggled offensively Saturday night against Marc-Andre Fleury and the Chicago Blackhawks (12-18-5) and lost, 2-1. The Golden Knights put up 31 shots and controlled most of the game but failed to generate any true grade-A opportunities to fool the returning hero, Fleury.

After being traded in the offseason goaltender and original Golden Knight Marc-Andre Fleury made his return to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fleury met with former teammate Robin Lehner during pregame warmups for a quick chat before he received a video tribute by the Golden Knights before the start of the first period. 

Fleury finished the game with 30 saves on 31 shots and the Golden Knights outshot the Blackhawks 31 to 21. But again for the majority of the game, the storyline for the Golden Knights was that none of their chances were all that dangerous. They went on to receive no powerplay opportunities in the game also. 

The Golden Knight’s only goal of the game came off the stick of Ben Hutton who scored his first goal as a member of the team. Nolan Patrick won a faceoff in the offensive zone and Hutton simply blasted home the shot with traffic in front of Fleury. The Golden Knights now have 24 goals from 14 different players in their last seven games played.

Sometime in the first period Golden Knights forward William Carrier left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return. Carrier only played 2:39 on the night and Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer took turns double shifting members of the misfit line with Patrick and Brett Howden. 

Speaking of the misfit line, the line of Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and William Karlsson was once again very noticeable for the Golden Knights on offense. Marchessault in particular was shooting the puck a lot, clearly wanting to score on his former teammate in Fleury. He will have to wait for the next meeting against his fellow French Canadian.

The Golden Knights had more mediocre chances to start the second period, but again, they were not solid enough to beat Fleury. Mark Stone fed Evgenii Dadonov in the slot and Fleury made the save. Later Zach Whitecloud was stopped after a rush to the net from Marchessault.

The Blackhawks tied up the game with Jujhar Khaira scoring on a rush with Jake McCabe. Kharia simply picked his shot and scored from the right circle on Lehner and tied the game. Not long after Lehner had to make a huge stop on Blackhawks leading scorer Alex DeBrincat.

But the Golden Knights found themselves down by a goal later in the period as Riley Stillman scored his first goal of the season from a point shot that hit off Howden. This continued the trend of goals from unexpected players Saturday night as Stillman, Khaira, and Hutton had all combined for two goals entering the game. 

To close out the second period Lehner made another huge stop on DeBrincat who slammed his stick in anger after the play. Entering the third period, the Golden Knights looked to get better overall chances on Fleury and the Blackhawks’ defense.

The Golden Knights did just that as Howden got a trio of chances on the doorstep to start the third. He was unable to fully control the puck and get a good shot on Fleury and the game remained tied. But the Golden Knights started to gain more and more pressure in the offensive zone. 

Perhaps the biggest chance for the Golden Knights all night that was stopped was a late-game shot by Dadonov after a pass from Stone. Fleury, like we have seen him do so many times before, slid from right to left to make the save. The Blackhawks closed out the game with a 2-1 victory.

This marks the only game on the Golden Knight’s season in which there have been no goals from either team. Robin Lehner’s six-game winning streak has also come to an end.

The Golden Knights have quite an interesting schedule upcoming as their next game is not until Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They then take a six-day break from games before taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 17th.

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