Perhaps the most important athlete in Las Vegas sports history returned to town last night. Marc-Andre Fleury and the Chicago Blackhawks took on the Vegas Golden Knights Saturday night and walked away with the 2-1 victory. Fleury made 30 saves in his return to T-Mobile Arena and also got a standing ovation from the fans after his video tribute.
What’s the saying like again? Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.
With Fleury’s return now in the rearview mirror, let’s look back on Flowers time with the Vegas Golden Knights and relive some of his greatest moments. Four years, seven playoff series wins, a Vezina Trophy, a Jennings Trophy, and countless other memories showcase just how impactful Fleury was to the city of Las Vegas.
Let’s start by looking at Vegas Hockey Now’s picks for the top-three Fleury performances with the Golden Knights.
October 6th, 2017 vs Dallas- The Debut
There is only one logical place to start and that is at the very beginning. After being taken from the Pittsburgh Penguins at the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft the Vegas Golden Knights built around Fleury as the first face of the franchise to start the team’s existence. In the first game in Golden Knights history against the Dallas Stars, Fleury proved to be the right choice.
Fleury made a remarkable 46 saves on 47 shots and the Golden Knights defeated the Stars 2-1. This was the first franchise win in Golden Knights history and Fleury’s 46 saves still remain the most in any game in team history.
December 14th, 2017 vs Pittsburgh- Against His Former Team
Las Vegas isn’t the only city that has plenty of fond memories with Marc-Andre Fleury. In mid-December of 2017, Fleury faced off against his former team in the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time in his career. He made 24 saves on 25 shots as the Golden Knights defeated the Penguins 2-1. Some of his saves included a cheeky poke check on Conor Sheary and other saves on longtime teammates Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang.
Fittingly, in his first game against both of his former teams, Fleury has defeated both the Penguins and Golden Knights by a score of 2-1. Ian Cole and Ben Hutton are the only goal scorers in Fleury’s first game against his former teams.
November 19th, 2019 vs Toronto- The Diving Save
Fleury has made some remarkable saves over the course of his NHL career such as a game seven save to clinch the Penguins the Stanley Cup in 2009. But easily his greatest save as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights came against the Toronto Maple Leafs in November of 2019. On a rebound shot from Nic Petan Fleury dived to make a miraculous glove save and the Golden Knights went on to win the game 4-2. This victory for the Golden Knights meant six straight losses for the Toronto Maple Leafs who would later on fire their head coach in Mike Babcock.
Impact in the Stanley Cup Playoffs
If there is one thing that Fleury knows how to do it is win. The 37-year old goaltender has been in the league for almost two decades now and has three Stanley Cups and over 500 wins on his resume. Fleury won 117 games with the Golden Knights in 192 starts.
In the playoffs, he was just as important with an overall playoff record with the Golden Knights of 28-19 in 47 playoff starts. His playoff stat line with the Golden Knights finished with a .920% save percentage and a 2.15 goals-against average. Fleury was crucial to the team’s runs to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018, and Conference Finals in 2021.
2020-21 Vezina and Jennings Trophy
Last season at 36-years old, Fleury showed no signs of slowing down and had one of his best seasons to date. Fleury started 36 games with the Golden Knights and won 26 of them, posting six shutouts along the way. He finished the season with an astonishing .928% save percentage and a 1.98 goals-against average. Fleury and teammate Robin Lehner, who started 19 games that season combined to win the Jennings Trophy as the league’s goaltending duo that let in the least amount of goals. Fleury went on to win the Vezina Trophy for the first time in his career as the NHL’s best goaltender.
Off the Ice Work, Pranks, and Personality
What ties it all together for Fleury is his personality. In his 18 seasons in the NHL, Fleury has had the reputation of being one of the most likeable and well-respected players in the game. Whether it was giving Blake Wheeler a wet willie, taping Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin’s jerseys, or building a snow wall, Fleury had plenty of pranks up his sleeve.
Oh and remember when he was on Pawn Stars?
My personal favorite Marc-Andre Fleury prank has to be the two-part series with Sidney Crosby. The first commercial is all about Crosby and his accomplishments before he says that he will score on Fleury this upcoming season (something that didn’t happen until 2019).
Fleury responded with a Mission Impossible-style prank and stole all of Crosby’s sticks.
Whether you love him, or somehow hate him, there is no denying that Marc-Andre Fleury has been one of the most impactful athletes in all of Las Vegas sports history. His four seasons with the Golden Knights will never be forgotten.