If Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is anxious as he awaits the birth of his third child, it’s not showing in his play.
The star goalie has won six straight starts in dominant fashion, allowing five goals and registering a .973 save percentage.
Fleury’s run included a shutout streak of more than 200 minutes, the longest of his storied career, and a first star of the week honor from the NHL.
Still, the 34-year-old isn’t willing to concede it’s the best he’s played this season.
“We’ve had a couple good stretches,” he said Saturday. “I feel good, but I don’t analyze or compare to other games or other times of the year. I just try to win that night and move on. The team has been very good in front of me, and that makes me look better.”
His assessment is accurate. The Knights have won seven of their past eight games entering Sunday’s 7 p.m. game against the Edmonton Oilers at T-Mobile Arena.
Fleury’s presence is a major factor.
“When you have (Fleury) in net, you don’t have to adapt too much,” forward Alex Tuch said. “He’s going to come out and play really strong games. He’s been playing really well lately, as the stats have shown and as you’ve seen in our success. It starts with him. When he’s on his game, we play more confident, we play better.”
Not that it’s anything new for the Knights. Coach Gerard Gallant almost takes for granted great stretches from his goalkeeper.
“He’s played great from the first game last year,” Gallant said. “Yeah, I think he’s playing great right now, but he’s always been great. We’ve never had a letdown from Fleury.”
Not even as his wife, Veronique, is due to give birth any day.
“It’s always exciting, but I think I know what to expect a little bit more having been through it twice,” Fleury said.
He and his wife even have a plan to make sure he gets enough rest with the playoffs looming. Eleven games remain in the regular season.
“I’ve got enough bedrooms, so I think I can go sleep on my own if I have to,” he said, laughing. “Plus, my mom is already in town, and my wife is always great.
“I think we have maybe a better game plan this time.”
The Knights have one on the ice, too, and are executing it well.
“It’s the whole team,” Fleury said. “It’s the forwards coming back hard and not letting the other team have time to make plays and putting pressure and squeezing them a bit more, cutting off those late passes through the middle and getting sticks on them, and then the defense is getting the puck out of the zone pretty quickly. We don’t get stuck in the zone too much, and they’ve been getting to the rebounds and blocking shots.”
And it always helps to have a safety valve like Fleury at the top of his game.
“He’s incredible,” defenseman Jon Merrill said. “He’s obviously world class. We’re just doing the best we can to help support him out there.”
Who: Oilers at Golden Knights
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: T-Mobile Arena
TV: NBCSN (Cox 38/1038, DirecTV 220, CenturyLink 640/1640, DISH 159)
Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM)
Line: Knights -230; total 6
1. Start fast. After a stretch of games in which the Golden Knights were falling behind early, they have scored first in six of their past seven. That was the case Friday when Max Pacioretty scored 18 seconds into the game at Dallas.
2. Killing it. The Knights killed off all five Dallas power plays in their 2-1 win, including two in the final 5:22. Vegas has excelled on the penalty kill lately, as opponents have scored once on their past 13 attempts in the last six games.
3. Scouting report. The Oilers essentially are playing out the season, with fading hopes of contending for a wild-card spot. But Edmonton is always dangerous with superstar Conor McDavid anchoring its top line. “Everyone has a plan to stop him, and he still has 100 points,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said.