On Tuesday night, Marc-Andre Fleury had a memorable performance in his first start of the season as the Minnesota Wild defeated the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The 38-year-old goalie, who hails from Sorel in Quebec, put on a show for his friends, family, and fans in attendance.
Fleury, who had around 90 friends and family members present at the game, made 27 saves and was rightfully recognized as the first star of the game. As the final horn sounded, the crowd at the Bell Centre rose to their feet and gave Fleury a standing ovation, acknowledging his fantastic performance.
In a post-game interview, Fleury expressed his gratitude for the warm reception he received from the Quebecois crowd. “I always said I was a big fan of the Canadiens, and to have the people of Quebec here cheering me on and encouraging me, it was a good feeling,” he said. Fleury also acknowledged the significance of the moment, stating that it was a “special night” for him.
Before the game, Fleury had hinted that it could potentially be his last start in Montreal. However, he did not want to dwell too much on the speculation, choosing instead to focus on enjoying the present moment. “I’m not sure if it’s done or not,” he said. “I don’t want to talk too much about that side of it for today.”
Leading the way for the Wild on the offensive end was Joel Eriksson Ek, who had two power-play goals and contributed an assist. Kirill Kaprizov also had a goal and assisted on both of Eriksson Ek’s goals. Meanwhile, Brandon Duhaime and Connor Dewar scored short-handed goals just 25 seconds apart in the first period to give the Wild an early 2-0 lead.
The Canadiens struggled to contain the Wild’s special teams, allowing two short-handed goals on the same power play for the first time since April 11, 2009. As per ESPN Stats & Information, it was the first time in franchise history that the Wild scored multiple power-play goals and multiple short-handed goals in a single game.
Despite Tanner Pearson and Alex Newhook finding the back of the net for Montreal, their efforts were not enough to overcome the Wild’s offensive onslaught. Sam Montembeault, the Canadiens’ goaltender, made 30 saves, but it wasn’t sufficient to keep his team within striking distance.
The game also marked a rare occurrence, as it featured a matchup between two Quebec-born goaltenders in Montreal. Fleury and Montembeault going head-to-head was a nostalgic reminder of the past, as there aren’t as many Quebecois goalies in the NHL as there used to be. Fleury wished Montembeault good luck for the rest of the season, showing the camaraderie between the province’s netminders.
Overall, it was a night to remember for Fleury and the Wild. Fleury’s stellar performance and the team’s success on special teams propelled them to victory. As the final buzzer sounded and the crowd showed their appreciation, it was evident that Fleury’s homecoming in Montreal was truly a fitting finale for the veteran goaltender.