Sports are funny sometimes. Every once in a while, something so paradoxical happens that it defies all logic.
What happened in the Vegas Golden Knights’ contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night can certainly be described as such. But before getting to the meat and potatoes, let’s take a quick jaunt down memory lane.
Prior to being claimed by Vegas in June’s expansion draft, Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury spent 13 seasons in a Penguins uniform. Fleury won three Stanley Cups as a Penguin, but he’ll be particularly remembered for his efforts in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals.
In the dying seconds of Game 7, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom found some open ice and frantically threw a puck on net in an effort to tie the game. Fleury, however, made a ridiculous diving save to keep the puck out of the net, which virtually sealed the win, as well as Pittsburgh’s first Stanley Cup title since 1992. This clutch stop has gone down as one of the more significant moments in recent Stanley Cup Finals history.
Now let’s fast forward to Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017.
It’s Fleury’s first game against his former team — the only other team he had played for in his NHL career.
Fleury had been standing on his head for most of the night. But one particular save just past the game’s midway point created an intense sensation of déjà vu for anyone who witnessed Fleury’s Cup-winning save in 2009.
Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin found some open ice and, just like Nick Lidstrom did, threw the puck on a mostly open net. And once again, Fleury made that same diving stop to keep the game’s score intact.
He did it against the Red Wings to win Pittsburgh the Stanley Cup in 2009, and now he did it against the Penguins to help his new team, the NHL’s newest franchise, pick up an important win at home.
It may not make headlines, but it’s the uncanny little things like this that make sports so much fun.