The Kings heavily outshot the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, but Los Angeles didn’t have goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury on its side and tonight he was the difference. Fleury kicked out all 31 Kings shots until finally Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist broke the scoreless tie in overtime.
Fleury was on a bit of a rough patch going into this game with three goals surrendered in each of his last three starts, but he’s been phenomenal overall this season with a 2.16 GAA and .924 save percentage. This was his ninth shutout of 2014-15, which is both the best in the NHL and just one away from doubling his old career high.
He also reached the 30-win mark for the sixth straight season, excluding the lockout shortened campaign. At the age of 30, he’s already accumulated 318 career wins, which puts him one shy of Miikka Kiprusoff and 25th place on the all-time list.
Of course, many of Fleury’s previous campaigns were impressive and that didn’t always translated to playoff success, but from a statistical perspective he’s never been this good in a regular season before.
Pittsburgh is now just three points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders, but this game was even more critical for Los Angeles. The defending Stanley Cup champions are a point back from the Calgary Flames and third place in the Pacific Division and three points shy of the second Wild Card seed.
Fleury made a highlight-reel save to rob Jiri Hudler of a sure goal early in the third period.
“It should mean a lot,” said Crosby of the record. “There’s some really good teams with some of the goalies that have played in Pittsburgh. How difficult it is; it’s not easy and he’s played for a long time. I’m definitely happy for him. He earned every bit of it tonight. He made some huge saves for us, like we’ve seen time and time again.
“The last 15 minutes there, you could tell that guys weren’t going to take any chances and when we did kind of give up something you could tell guys were extra desperate. For a 4-0 game you don’t see guys usually that desperate. That’s the reason why, and it’s good to see that. Guys really wanted to see him get that.”
Chris Kunitz had three assists in the win.
David Perron and Brandon Sutter had the other Penguins goals.
Jonas Hiller allowed four goals on 24 shots and was replaced Karri Ramo in the third. Ramo made six saves in relief.
With the loss, the Flames concluded their six-game home stand with a 4-2-0 record.
After starting the season so well, not to mention signing a $23 million extension, Fleury had a tough month of January, allowing 26 goals on 244 shots for a save percentage of just .893. (And his February didn’t start out too well either, with a 4-0 loss to Nashville on Sunday.)