Only Marc-Andre Fleury is in second place overall in terms of victories
With his 552nd victory in the NHL and his 74th career shutout, Marc-Andre Fleury moved into sole ownership of second place on Monday night as the Minnesota Wild downed the New York Islanders 5-0.
Joel Eriksson Ek scored twice during special teams play, Mats Zuccarello contributed a goal and an assist, and the Wild, who had lost their previous nine games 1-7-1, celebrated the much-needed milestone of 39-year-old Fleury surpassing Patrick Roy in the all-time list.
“I’m glad it’s over; we can stop talking about it,” Fleury remarked in his post-game on-ice interview. “It’s about time we got one, but it’s an honor to be here in Minnesota, to be in front of the fans. They’ve been great, and so, that’s awesome.”
After being 1-4-1 in his previous six games, Fleury recorded his first shutout of the season by stopping 21 shots.
John Hynes, the coach of the Wild, stated, “The way he played tonight, we had a few breakdowns, and you needed key saves at key times.” “And we got them from him.”
After a challenging power-play save in the second period, when the Wild outshot the careless and lethargic Islanders by a massive 21-3, the fans screamed Fleury’s name.
“If you looked at how the team rushed out after the game to congratulate him, it shows what type of teammate he is and what he means to the NHL and every organization he’s played for,” Hynes stated. “He’s a special guy and a special player.”
In the final minutes, the Wild team as a whole surrounded the well-liked French-Canadian player known by the moniker “Flower” in the crease for embraces after the game.
At his stall in the Wild locker room following the victory, Fleury was met by two of his three children (the other was recuperating from tonsil surgery). The team promptly declared that Fleury will have a celebratory night on February 9 when the Wild play the Pittsburgh Penguins, the franchise with which he spent 13 seasons winning three Stanley Cups.
After participating in another Cup Final with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017–18, he went on to play for the Chicago Blackhawks before making his way to Minnesota two years ago in a midseason trade, which is generally considered to be the last destination of his illustrious career. After his contract expires this summer, Fleury—who also has 92 victories and 16 shutouts in 169 playoff games—has not stated if he plans to play again next season.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin of the Wild stated, “He’s probably the best guy I’ve ever played with there on the team,” “He cares about the team, and he’s such a good guy. I’m so happy for him.”
For the Islanders, Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves in two periods while starting 11 straight games, a career high. With an average of more than 34 shots allowed by the Islanders in his appearances this season, he is the only goaltender in the league to have faced more than 1,000 shots to date.
After the second interval, with the Islanders losing 3-0 and having to play again the next night, Kenneth Appleby took over in goal. A lower-body injury has kept Semyon Varlamov out of the lineup for six games and counting. After playing for the New Jersey Devils for over six years, Appleby made his NHL debut. Eriksson Ek’s short-handed goal and Foligno’s flip-in in the last minute were both allowed by him.
On the power play, Eriksson Ek and Zuccarello scored, and the Islanders were assessed six penalties. The Islanders have fallen short in four of their last five games and six straight against the Wild.
Two days earlier, in a 6-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, the Wild were jeered by their home crowd, which led to a players-only meeting, to which Minnesota duly responded.
Despite the fact that the Wild are far below the cut in 13th place in the Western Conference, general manager Bill Guerin stated prior to Monday’s game that he isn’t ready to give up on the playoffs and reduce compensation.
With the return of Brodin from his 17-game layoff owing to an upper-body injury acquired on December 8, the Wild are back to nearly full strength for the first time in almost three weeks.
Just 2:21 into the game, Zuccarello scored on a power play slap shot from behind the left circle; it was his first goal in 20 games after missing nine due to injury. A 17-game goal drought was broken by Dewar. Eriksson Ek had not scored in ten games in a row.
When they score first, the Wild are 14–2-4. Their last victory in regulation came against the Detroit Red Wings on December 27.
With 691 victories to Fleury’s 691, Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur—who won three Stanley Cup titles with the Devils—holds the record.