Marc-Andre Fleury saves day for Wild and gets himself back on track – The Rink Live

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Marc-Andre Fleury took multiple deep breathes in the locker room on Thursday night minutes after the Wild pulled out their 4-3 overtime victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Though some of the breathlessness likely stemmed from exertion in the game itself, Fleury’s exhales sure felt like a metaphor for group a players that finally was able to take a breath after notching a win for the first time this season.

“It’s good to see guys laugh a bit,” Fleury said. “Everybody kind of got tense, right? Not being ourselves. It’s nice to be relaxed and smile and have fun playing the game.”

The vibes were bad for the Wild during their 0-3-0 start this season, and nobody embodied that more than Fleury between the pipes.

After getting lit up in losses to the New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings last week, Fleury sat stoically at his stall and took accountability for his struggles. He took a seat on the bench the following game as backup Filip Gustavsson got the nod (and also got lit up) in a loss to the Colorado Avalanche.

During an intense practice Wednesday at TRIA Rink in downtown St. Paul, coach Dean Evason approached Fleury and asked a simple question.

“I asked him if he was ready to lead,” Evason said. “He said a bunch of stuff. All good. He wanted that opportunity.”

The good news is that Fleury rose to the occasion, saving the day for the Wild against the Canucks. Literally. He was outstanding throughout the game, and fittingly, his biggest save came in the final minutes with the Wild on the penalty kill. It was Flower at his finest as he sprawled to make make the initial save, then dove face first into the chaos to clear the puck.

Looking at Fleury’s face postgame, it was clear how relieved he was to get himself back on track. He said it helped to have a day away from the rink earlier this week. He got to spend some time with his wife and kids, as well as his mother, who was in town for Thursday’s game between the Wild and Canucks.

“She must have been nervous,” Fleury said with a laugh. “Keep her young.”

Any motherly advice?

“Stop the puck,” Fleury said with another laugh. “My dad always used to tell me to have fun and work hard. She just said the same thing.”

Asked about Fleury, center Ryan Hartman talked at length about confidence. He noted how the whole team, not just Fleury, lost some confidence after starting 0-3-0.

“It’s good to get that adversity out of the way and start rolling from here,” Hartman said. “We pulled ourselves out. We’re happy to get the win and head on the road here.”

Now that the weight has been lifted from the Wild, it’ll be interesting to see how they perform on the upcoming 10-day road trip. They are staring down a tough game against the Boston Bruins this weekend before finishing with games in Montreal, Ottawa, Detroit and Chicago.

“It’s done,” Evason said of the slow start. “Are we going to have some signs of it on Saturday afternoon in Boston? Probably. But I think we’ll be able to push through it a little better now with a little more ease because of the win.”


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