Marc-Andre Fleury caps magical return to Vegas with 30 save winning performance

marc-andre fleury vegas
Jan 8, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) tosses a puck to fans before the start of a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It was another trip down memory lane for the fans of the Vegas Golden Knights when they hosted goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night in Las Vegas.

The previous game against the New York Rangers saw the return of Gerard Gallant, their first head coach in history who led them to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. It was also the return of fan-favorite Ryan Reaves.

Vegas dominated that game and won it by a 5-1 score. However, neither of them wore goalie pads and could stop pucks.

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Marc-Andre Fleury’s victorious return

Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks snapped a six-game winless streak with a 2-1 victory over the host Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night.

It was the 502nd career victory, third all-time in NHL history, for the popular Fleury who was facing the Golden Knights for the first time since being traded to Chicago last July. The Golden Knights honored Fleury with a special tribute video before the opening faceoff.

“It was weird,” Fleury said of returning to Vegas. “Obviously, they’ve got a few new guys that I haven’t practiced with, but so many guys I played hockey with every day pretty much for the past four years, so it’s sometimes a little bit of a mind game because you know what they like to do. They know that I know.”

Stillman gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead at the 14:21 mark of the second period with his first goal of the season, flipping a shot from the left point that caromed off the knee of Vegas forward Brett Howden and inside the left post.

Vegas pulled Lehner for an extra attacker with 1:48 remaining but Fleury turned away two shots, including a sharp-angle one-timer by Evgenii Dadonov from the bottom of the right circle.

“Obviously, a big night for ‘Flower’ and a big night for their team,” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said.

Fleury gracious in win

marc-andre fleury golden knights
Jan 8, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) salutes the crowd as he receives an ovation for his time as a Vegas Golden Knight before a game against his former team at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Fleury, 36, was one of the most popular players in Vegas during the team’s first four seasons. His acrobatic style and bubbly personality joined the team via the expansion draft in June 2017 and he promptly led the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final during a storybook first season.

“I don’t know if it’s purposely, but I haven’t thought much about it,” Fleury said leading into the game.

Fleury won the Vezina Trophy last season after compiling a 26-10-0 record and six shutouts with a 1.98 goals-against and .928 save percentage. However, the Golden Knights, saddled with major salary cap problems that frequently left the team short-handed near the end of the 2020-21 season, decided to trade Fleury to the Blackhawks for minor league forward prospect Mikael Hakkarainen last July.

“I just wanted to say thanks, obviously thank you to the fans for an amazing four years,” Fleury said after the win. “They were awesome. Glad I got to say my thanks.”

–Field Level Media contributed to this report