Blackhawks defeat Golden Knights 2-1 in Marc-Andre Fleury’s return to Vegas
The Knights are now 1-2-1 in 2022.
Marc-Andre Fleury secured another win at T-Mobile Arena when the Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night.
This time, however, he did so as the visitor.
In his first game back in Vegas since getting traded last summer, the original Golden Knights goaltender made 30 saves on 31 shots for a .968 save percentage, stopping all 22 shots in the final 40 minutes.
He has now defeated all 32 current teams in the NHL and is undefeated against the Knights.
He wasn’t overly tested but had a strong stretch early in the third period and made a huge save on Evgenii Dadonov in the final minute of regulation.
It was far from an impressive effort by the Golden Knights, who were coming off one of the team’s best wins of the season, a 5-1 victory against the Rangers.
That game started with a tribute; so did tonight’s, as the Golden Knights honored Fleury prior to the start of the game.
🌸 The Dude is still The Man 🌸— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 9, 2022
Thank you for four years of thrilling saves, endless laughs and memories we’ll keep forever.
Welcome back, Marc-Andre Fleury 🐐 #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/VXdno1wPwn
But both teams got down to business once the puck dropped, and it took Vegas just over five minutes to get things started.
It was none other than Ben Hutton who became the first Golden Knight to score a goal on Fleury.
Hutton fired it right off the faceoff, beating Fleury top-shelf thanks to a Brett Howden screen in front. It was Hutton’s first as a Golden Knight.
Ben Hutton's first goal as a Golden Knight, puts #VGK up 1-0! pic.twitter.com/skTwo04rx8— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) January 9, 2022
The tally marked the fourth line’s second goal in two games, and Nolan Patrick picked up the primary assist on the play for the second straight game as well. There was plenty of traffic in front, taking Fleury’s eyes away as the Knights grabbed a 1-0 lead 5:17 into the game.
Vegas finished off a rather uneventful opening frame that featured a combined 14 shots, but the pace picked up early in the second.
After Fleury made a few big stops at one end, including a kick save on Zach Whitecloud, Blackhawks forward Jujhar Khaira raced up the ice and beat Robin Lehner cleanly, evening things up at 1-1 just 4:38 into the period.
Jujhar Khaira scores his third goal of the season. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/r7HKubIc7a— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) January 9, 2022
Former Golden Knights forward Ryan Carpenter recorded the lone assist on the play.
Chicago took a 2-1 lead 10 minutes later, as Riley Stillman’s shot deflected off Howden on its way to the back of the net.
Riley Stillman wires one through traffic and in to give Chicago the lead!#Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/X6CReI8VcG— Hockey Daily 365 (@HockeyDaily365) January 9, 2022
Ultimately, that was the game-winner.
Chicago controlled play for the rest of the frame, holding the Knights without a shot on goal in the final 7:15.
The Knights responded with five shots in the first four minutes of the third but were thwarted by Fleury.
Chicago continued to shut things down, and the Knights never broke through. Vegas chased a goal for the rest of the night but had just two shots in the final eight minutes.
One of those shots was the Knights’ best opportunity of the game, but Fleury pulled out a move from his past with a diving/jumping save to rob Dadonov at the side of the net in the final minute of regulation. The Knights iced the puck with 21 seconds to go and came away empty-handed.
It was an uninspired effort by a Knights team that never found a sense of desperation, even in a one-shot game.
Chicago was the better team, and it showed. The Blackhawks closed out the game in the second and third periods, finishing the night with 24 blocked shots; the Knights failed to make any adjustments.
Lehner finished the game with 19 saves on 21 shots for a .905 save percentage.
The Golden Knights remain in first place in the Pacific Division with 47 points (and a .618 points percentage), but the loss was enough to allow the Nashville Predators to move into first place in the Western Conference with 48 points.
William Carrier left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. He’ll have an extra day off before the Knights finish up the six-game homestand Tuesday against Toronto.