ST. PAUL, Minn. — Marc-Andre Fleury made 32 saves and Kirill Kaprizov scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period as the Minnesota Wild beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 on Friday night.
Fleury, who earned his 553rd career win, was honored in a pregame ceremony nearly a month after passing Patrick Roy (551) for second place in NHL history. He trails only Martin Brodeur, who has 691 wins.
“It was a big difference in the game,” Wild coach John Hynes said of Fleury. “Then the way the players play in front of him. It’s fun to be involved in that and see how much he battles and how much he means to the team.”
With the team that drafted Fleury first overall in 2003 and with which he won three Stanley Cups looking on, including former teammates still in Pittsburgh, the Wild honored Fleury with a video tribute. The goalie was given a silver engraved stick noting his topping 1,000 games played, a $5,000 donation to a charity of Fleury’s choice and a souvenir mask with each of the four teams he played on.
“I’m happy it’s over,” Fleury said. “I was a little nervous for it. I feel like I’ve gotten softer and softer with the years and then seeing my kids on the ice and on the jumbotron talking, too, old teammates. I don’t know, it gets me.”
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) February 10, 2024
Reilly Smith and Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins, and Alex Nedeljkovic made 27 saves.
“He made some big saves,” Crosby said of Fleury. “I thought they did a great job recognizing what he’s accomplished. It was great to be a part of that, but you still want to have the bragging rights at the end of the night.”
With all eyes on Fleury and the fans providing several “Fleury” chants, he held strong back in net for the first time in five games after being sidelined by an upper-body injury.
Matt Boldy and Jonas Brodin also scored for Minnesota, which has won five of seven.
Smith, in his second game back after missing time with an upper-body injury, scored his ninth of the season at 2:54 of the second to tie it. It was Smith’s first goal since Dec. 18, a span of 11 games.
Crosby, who earlier in the day gifted a painting to Fleury, scored 1:01 into the third, deflecting a point shot from Erik Karlsson into an open net on the side of Fleury to tie it again.
“That’s what matters always, the win, but I had him a couple times in the second,” Fleury said. “I was happy about that. And then he scored, had a good celebration too. Geez.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.