Marc-Andre Fleury ready for Wild debut: ‘We’re trying to make a run here’

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Marc-Andre Fleury is scheduled to make his team debut for the Minnesota Wild when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night in Saint Paul, Minn.

Fleury, 37, is a three-time Stanley Cup champion and the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goaltender. The Wild acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks at the Monday trade deadline in exchange for a conditional second-round pick in this year’s draft.

The opportunity to join a contender is reinvigorated, according to Fleury. He posted a 19-21-5 record with a 2.95 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 45 games, all starts, with Chicago this season.

Marc-Andre Fleury debut

marc-andre fleury
Mar 21, 2022; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) warms up before the game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

“Everybody knows that we’re going to try to make a run here, and it’s exciting,” Fleury said. “Everybody’s excited. It’s a well-balanced team, and it will be fun to watch.”

A year ago, Fleury helped Vegas knock off Minnesota in seven games during a first-round playoff series. Fleury’s coaches and teammates are glad he is on their side now.

“He just makes clutch saves and momentum saves that could be changing the game, but he swings it back the other way because of his ridiculous saves,” Wild forward Marcus Foligno said. “He beat us in that first round, and it’s definitely great to have him as a teammate now.”

Wild coach Dean Evason agreed.

“He’s obviously (a) world class, Hall of Fame, Stanley Cup goaltender,” Evason said.

Minnesota is looking for its fifth consecutive win after posting victories over the Boston Bruins, Chicago, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Vancouver Canucks. The Wild outscored those foes 13-5.

“Obviously it’s always different coming to a new team with new guys and new systems. It’s not always easy,” Fleury said Friday. “But you still want to do well, right? It’s your first impression, especially at home with our fans and stuff. [I’ll] try my best and hopefully things go well.”

Blue Jackets looking to bounce back

Meanwhile, Columbus hopes to bounce back on short rest after a 4-3 overtime road loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. Brendan Gaunce, Adam Boqvist and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored for Columbus, with Bjorkstand forcing OT with a goal 14 seconds from the end of regulation. However, Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers netted the winner 21 seconds into the extra period.

The Blue Jackets are 1-2-1 in their past four contests.

The Blue Jackets will have to defend against the Wild’s top scorer, Kirill Kaprizov, who has 78 points (33 goals, 45 assists) in 61 games. Mats Zuccarello is second with 63 points (19 goals, 44 assists) in 54 games, and Kevin Fiala is third with 56 points (21 goals, 35 points) in 62 contests.

–Field Level Media