Wednesday night’s three-game National Hockey League schedule featured a huge game in the Pacific Division with one of the all-time greats shining in the spotlight. Plus, one of the teams battling for a playoff spot out west gave an update on their top netminder.
Fleury Shuts Down Oilers’ Attack
The Vegas Golden Knights traded for goaltender Robin Lehner on Monday afternoon, but it was their starter, Marc-Andre Fleury, who took center stage in last night’s big win over the Edmonton Oilers. Fleury stopped all 29 shots he faced in a 3-0 shutout victory for the first-place Golden Knights.
The shutout was Fleury’s fifth of the season, tying him with Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the most in the NHL. The veteran now has 61 shutouts in his career which has him tied with Toronto Maple Leafs Hall of Famer Turk Broda for 17th on the all-time list in league history.
Fleury needed to be sharp right off the bat as Leon Draisaitl had a pair of great scoring chances in the opening seconds of the game.
“They definitely had some Grade-A chances where [Fleury] made some unbelievable saves,” said Max Pacioretty, who scored his 30th goal of the season. “That’s just [Fleury]. We see that often and when you leave him out to dry a couple of times like that, you definitely bear down a little more.”
Fleury has won each of his last five starts, helping the Golden Knights to seven straight wins. They are one victory shy of tying their longest win streak in franchise history, set during the 2017-18 season, and are 11-3-2 since Pete DeBoer took over as head coach on Jan. 15. With the win, the Golden Knights own a four-point lead on the Oilers and Vancouver Canucks for the Pacific Division lead.
Vegas Makes Coaching Change
The Golden Knights made some more goalie news during their morning skate before the win over the Oilers. DeBoer announced a change to his coaching staff as goaltending coach Dave Prior is taking on a different role with the team.
“We restructured our goaltending department a little bit here,” he told reporters. “Mike Rosati, starting tomorrow, will handle the day-to-day stuff. Mike’s been with the organization for 3 years. He’s familiar with (Fleury). Working out of Chicago with our American League team, he’s real familiar with Lehner’s game watching them play.
“Dave’s still part of the organization. It’s not health-related. Dave’s role here has always been bigger than the day-to-day coaching job, and he’s going to be based out of Ontario and continue to support us that way.”
Rosati has spent the last three seasons as the Golden Knights’ goaltending development coach. Working with the netminders of the Chicago Wolves in the AHL has been a big part of his job.
He was originally selected by the New York Rangers in the seventh round of the 1988 NHL Draft. He spent 13 seasons playing professionally, mostly in Italy. Rosati made one career NHL appearance with the Washington Capitals during the 1998-99 season. He stopped all 12 shots he faced to retire with a perfect 1.00 save percentage (SV%).
Canucks Update Markstrom’s Status
The Canucks are right in the thick of the playoff race in the Pacific Division and the play of All-Star goaltender Jacob Markstrom is a factor in that. However, general manager Jim Benning shared some rough news on Wednesday evening.
In an official statement, Benning announced that Markstrom underwent a “minor lower-body procedure.” His status will be re-evaluated in two weeks, so it is still unknown when he can return to the Vancouver crease.
Markstrom has played well enough to be in the Vezina Trophy discussion with a .918 SV% in 43 games this season. Thatcher Demko will take over starting duties in his absence. He made 37 saves in an overtime victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night. The Canucks also acquired Louis Domingue from the New Jersey Devils on Monday to serve as Demko’s backup.
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Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.