Last night was the final Saturday of action for the decade across the National Hockey League and it was an evening to remember. There were plenty of milestones and personal achievements during a historic night, including two between the pipe. Plus, we will look back to a strange situation that happened 62 years ago today.
Fleury Ties Cujo
Marc-Andre Fleury has made quite a bit of goaltending history already this season as he climbs up the NHL’s all-time wins list. On Saturday night, he made 27 saves to beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-1 for his 454th career victory, tying Curtis Joseph for sixth-most wins in league history.
“Like I’ve said before, it’s humbling to be among these guys,” Fleury said during his postgame media session. “CuJo is a guy I grew up watching; his feistiness and his battle in the game. I’ve been fortunate myself to play with good teams and good players.”
Fleury played against Joseph during his rookie season while he was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. On Oct. 18, 2008, the first-year netminder bested his hero with 27 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sound familiar?
It was a nice bounce-back game for Fleury who had given up 12 combined goals in his previous two starts; losses to the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche.
The best of his 27 saves came in the second period when Michael Grabner, who scored earlier in the game, used his speed to get past a pair of defenders, but Fleury’s glove hand was a bit faster.
Not only was the win a personal milestone for Fleury, but it was a huge one for the surging Vegas Golden Knights as well, who are now in first place of the Pacific Division.
Markstrom Has a Night to Remember
If the Stanley Cup playoffs were to start today, the Canucks would be in the second and final wild-card spot. If we see them playing in late April, last night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings will be one of the key victories that got them there.
The Kings outplayed the Canucks all night long and outshot them 51-26, but came out on the losing end of a 3-2 decision. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom made his ninth straight start for the Canucks, the longest such streak in the NHL, and was fantastic.
He made a career-high 49 saves in the first game in Canucks franchise history where they gave up more than 50 shots at home. It was the most saves any Vancouver goaltender had made in a game since Roberto Luongo stopped 54 pucks against the San Jose Sharks on May 24, 2011, to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final.
“He stood on his head again today,” said Canucks center Elias Pettersson, who scored the game-winning goal. “We didn’t have our best game. We made a lot of turnovers, but that’s why you have a good goalie and he got us the win today.”
The win was the 100th in Markstrom’s NHL career. He is now 5-0-0 this season when facing at least 40 shots.
This Date in Goaltending History – Lefty Saves the Day
On Dec. 29, 1957, fans at the old Olympia Stadium were treated to a memorable game. Boston Bruins goaltender Don Simmons had to leave the game during the first period after suffering a dislocated shoulder. This was back in the era when teams did not have a backup goaltender on their rosters, so they were stuck in between a rock and a hard place.
Lefty Wilson, the assistant trainer of the Detroit Red Wings, stepped in and crossed enemy lines to finish the game for the Bruins in goal. Wilson ended up making 23 saves and allowed one goal in a 2-2 tie with his employer.
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Wilson spent 32 years with the Red Wings organization, between 1950 and 1982, and this was the third and final time he was called into emergency services. It was the only time where he earned a decision. Out of his three NHL appearances, only one was for the Red Wings, back in the 1953-54 season. He also suited up for the Maple Leafs during a game against Detroit in the 1955-56 season. He finished his NHL “playing career” with a 0-0-1 record and a 0.74 goals-against average (GAA) and .970 save percentage (SV%) while playing for three different teams.