Sunday, April 11, 2021 | 6:09 p.m.
Marc-Andre Fleury entered Sunday’s game with 65 shutouts in his career. No. 66 might have been the easiest he’s ever had.
The Golden Knights held the Arizona Coyotes to 14 shots in a 1-0 win at T-Mobile Arena. The 14 saves were the fewest Fleury ever needed in a shutout dating back to his Pittsburgh days and marked his fifth shutout of the season to tie him for the league lead.
“I thought we were solid defensively all game long,” Fleury said. “It got lonely sometimes back there by myself. It was nice to get the win in the end.”
Fleury’s victory gave him 484 in his career, tying him with Ed Belfour for fourth on the NHL’s al-time list. Roberto Luongo is third at 489 so it’s possible Fleury catches him later this season.
The 14 shots allowed were the fewest Vegas ever allowed in a game in the franchise’s four-year history. The Coyotes started the contest by firing four at Fleury in the first 3:08 game, helped by a power play, then Vegas shut them down after that. Vegas allowed just four shots on goal in both the second and third periods.
And they weren’t good shots.
Almost nothing came from dangerous areas of the ice, and Arizona finished with 0.85 expected goals, according to Natural Stat Trick. It’s the first time this season and second time ever Vegas held an opponent under an expected goal.
“I thought we really tightened up and were solid in our ‘D’ zone and didn’t give them too much,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “And (Fleury) was pretty solid back there when we needed him.”
The offense, which exploded for seven goals on Friday against Arizona and has scored 14 goals in the last three games, did just enough to secure the win. It took until the 10:38 mark of the third period, but Tomas Nosek capitalized on a defensive zone turnover by the Coyotes and beat Adin Hill for the game’s only goal.
It continued a hot streak for Nosek, who has 13 points (all but one of his season total) in his last 17 games. His seven goals in 32 games this year is one off his career high — he scored 8 goals in 67 games last year and the 8 goals in 68 games the year prior.
It might have also been his favorite goal of the year. He looked into the crowd and blew a kiss after he scored, which he said was for his family who was in the stands.
“It was simple — my wife was here with my firstborn son and he saw me score a goal for the first time,” Nosek said.
Even beyond Nosek’s goal, the offense was better than the 1-0 score might suggest. The Golden Knights fired 29 shots, which is just a few below average for the season. They also hit the post or the crossbar five times, including once in the first minute.
Oddly, it was the second 1-0 victory against the Coyotes in this season, including the Jan. 24 game where William Karlsson scored the only goal in the final minute.
That game wasn’t as defensively dominant, and Vegas pounded the Coyotes for the second game in a row. On Friday the Golden Knights scored four times in the first period and netted a season-high seven goals, but allowed Arizona to make it interesting in the third period. This time Vegas didn’t allow Arizona to do anything. It was in a different way, but it was still a commanding win.
“I really liked our detail and our detail tonight, defensively and offensively,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “The ones that went in last game early in the game were hitting posts and crossbars tonight.
“We didn’t get away from our game plan, we didn’t get impatient or step out of our defensive structure. We just stuck with it.”