An Oral History Of Marc-Andre Fleury's 'Superman Save'
Read what all involved in the game-saving play had to say about Fleury's spectacular stop
Gary Lawless and Gordon Weigers
Sports is about moments. Moments that stick with us forever. Marc-Andre Fleury's "Superman Save" immediately seared itself into the collective memory bank of hockey fans in Vegas and everywhere.
The save dripped drama and athleticism. It lifted a team to victory and 18,000-plus fans out of their seats. It lit the internet on fire. Superlatives, moans and groans all combined to describe the 34-year-old's wizardry on a Tuesday night on the Las Vegas strip.
If you missed the moment, here it is in moving pictures accentuated by the play-by-play voices of the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Vegas Golden Knights and Toronto Maple Leafs were sharing the ice for the second time in 13 nights. The third period of the game had a different composition to the 40 minutes which preceded it as both teams ramped up the offense. A 1-0 Golden Knights lead had become a 3-1 lead in a matter of 10 minutes. Zach Hyman scored a power-play goal to cut the Vegas lead to 3-2 and a hungry Toronto team was pressing to tie the game.
The game clock had just bled into its final four minutes of action. The Maple Leafs had claimed a 50-50 puck in the neutral zone and Ilya Mikheyev skated into the Vegas zone. He put a shot on goal that glanced the crossbar, caromed off the referee in the corner and landed on the stick of Nic Petan. To Petan's credit, the surprise bounce gave him a scoring chance he had to react quickly to, and he put a strong backhand shot on a gaping Vegas net.
Fleury dove from the top of his crease back into the blue paint and caught the puck in mid-air. Statistically, it counted as one save. But to a team, a city and a fan base, it was much more than one puck kept out of the net.
History has a way of torqueing events. Taking the facts and adding hyperbole. The comments below were collected all within 24 hours of Fleury's save.
Marc-Andre Fleury, goalie, Vegas Golden Knights Nic Petan, forward, Toronto Maple Leafs Gerard Gallant, head coach, Vegas Golden Knights Nic Hague, defenseman, Vegas Golden Knights Jon Merrill, defenseman, Vegas Golden Knights Mark Stone, forward, Vegas Golden Knights Shea Theodore, defenseman, Vegas Golden Knights Tommy Cruz, video coach, Vegas Golden Knights Dan D'Uva, radio PxP, Vegas Golden Knights Dave Goucher, TV PxP, Vegas Golden Knights Daren Millard, TV host, Vegas Golden Knights Mike McKenna, TV studio analyst, Vegas Golden Knights
VGK Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury On making the acrobatic save… "It was fun. A little lucky because I didn't save that first one off the crossbar. It's good when you get those second opportunities to redeem yourself. Certainly a lot of fun."
On what he was thinking after he made the save… "Just enjoy it, get a little giggle and smile and be happy it didn't go in. As a goalie, I think those are the saves that make you feel like you scored. Those are the saves I love to play for. It's fun to do."
Toronto Forward Nic Petan On the save… "It was a phenomenal save. It came out to me, so I just wanted to smack it. It was on my back hand so I didn't have much time, but I didn't think he saw it. Obviously, he did. Sometimes you have to tip your hat I guess."
On comparing that save to anything in the past… "I don't know if there is much else to say, just a great save. I'll probably be seeing that one for a while."
VGK Broadcaster Dan D'Uva When a goaltender saves 21,145 shots over the course of 816 regular season games, it may be a fool's errand to isolate the single "best" save of his career - to say nothing of an additional 3,805 postseason saves. After all, only nine goalies have made more saves than Marc-Andre Fleury in NHL history. How to pick?
To define parameters, Marc-Andre Fleury's airborne, acrobatic save Tuesday vs. Toronto was not his most clutch or transformative. Stanley Cup moments abound for the soon-to-be 35-year-old, notably "the save that saved the Cup" on Nicklas Lidstrom in the waning seconds of Game 7 in the 2009 Final, or the back-and-forth pair of stops on Mark Scheifele in Game 3 of 2018 Western Conference Final.
Instead, the mechanics of the sequence - an especially quick and uncommon sequence - make Tuesday's glory momentous. Fleury, in less than two seconds, processes the following: a shot from his right beats him high. Not good. He hears the puck hit iron, a glimmer of hope. He jerks his glance left to see if the shot went bar down or bar out. He's relieved to spy the puck careening wide, but then sees it deflect off the referee's leg. Where will it go? Nic Petan's stick. Fleury propels himself left - not along the ice - but through the air. As he soars, he feels the puck in his glove. He lands on the ice and hears the roar of the awe-struck crowd.
Awe for the optics of the save? Deserved - and it will not soon fade from the memory of anyone who saw it. But what I find most awesome is Fleury's uncanny talent to react with efficiency and creativity time after time.
VGK Defenseman Jon Merrill On the save… "I feel like he's done that so many times, but yeah its incredible. He is one of the best for a reason."
On reaction from the bench… "It was probably pretty similar as everyone else in the building, just jaw dropping and in awe of him. What came to my mind right away is that he is worth the price of admission every night for sure."
On momentum that comes from a save like that… "It gets the bench going. We want to be out there battling for him because he's out there battling for us all game long."
VGK Defenseman Shea Theodore On the play… "I was the d-man there, I think the puck went off the crossbar, off the ref and right to the guy. He got some good wood on it, but Flower was just a little bit quicker."
On what he saw… "I probably had the best angle in the house. It was awesome."
On what went through his mind… "Um… (a pause, a look at Brayden McNabb, and a laugh) it's just an incredible save. There's no way around it. I might have said some comments to him postgame about it."
Seen anything like it before? "I have not. He does it in practice all the time, but to do it in a pressure situation is pretty cool. It's unbelievable. His instincts are unreal, it's so fun to watch."
Do you owe him dinner? "I think I owe him dinner a lot, regardless of that save or not."
VGK Defenseman Nic Hague On the play… "The shot came from the wall, I think it hit the cross bar. I turned around and lost it for a second, I think it went off the ref. It came back to the guy, he threw it on net and I mean…wow. There's a picture of it I got tagged in about a million times on Instagram last night. It's just my face when he dove across and caught it. It's pretty incredible. Obviously, it's an outstanding save. I kind of just stood there, I had no idea what to say to him for a couple of seconds. I don't know if I'll ever see something like that again. I want to say I'm surprised, but I'm really not. He makes saves like that all the time and it keeps us in games. That's what makes him so great."
On if that save turn Nic Hague into a meme… "Honestly, it might have. A lot of my buddies sent it to me, they took a screen shot of the save when the puck just went into his glove. I'm coming back to the net and my mouth is wide open, my eyes are huge. They were laughing at my reaction."
On if he'd ever seen a save like that… "No. Anything close to that has come from him. That topped all the other ones. That's who he is. He never quits on a puck. It's really nice to have him back there."
On what that save says about Fleury… "That's just his personality. He never wants a puck to go in the net. Whether it's a game like that or just messing around at practice. At the start of practice, I'll be skating around shooting pucks and he'll come up from behind me and hit my stick and say like 'No, not today.' He's not even in the net, he's just skating around. That's just the kind of guy he is. He has a lot of fun with it, he never stops competing and, if he's going to get there, he's going to get there."
VGK Head Coach Gerard Gallant On the save… "He's pretty incredible when he makes those saves like that. It was 3-2 at the time, it was a huge save obviously, but as a coach you kind of expect that from him. He makes those saves and he's acrobatic. He never gives up on the puck."
On what exactly you saw on save… "To be honest with you I didn't really see it. I was getting the next line ready so I didn't see the save until after the game. I thought it was a goal when I looked at it, but that's Marc-Andre Fleury. He never gives up and that's the battle in him and that was a huge save at a huge time.
VGK Broadcaster Mike McKenna Last night we witnessed something special. Marc-Andre Fleury's diving glove save wasn't just a thing of beauty, it was a career-defining stop that will be a highlight for years to come. It was incredible on several levels: Fleury's puck tracking, his battle, his explosiveness… all these attributes combined in a split second to make the save. I'm running out of adjectives to describe it. It was stunning to see in person.
But what's most amazing is the diving stop overshadowed several other miraculous saves that preserved the win for the Golden Knights. Not long before, he slid cross-crease to rob William Nylander with his toe. And midway through the period - just after Vegas had taken a 2-1 lead - Fleury stoned John Tavares on a 2-on-1. Talk about clutch. It takes something drastic to lift me out of my broadcaster stool, but it happened four or five times in the third period alone. It might have been the greatest period by a goaltender that I've ever witnessed.
VGK Forward Mark Stone Thoughts on your perspective of save… "I was right beside him. I saw the puck go off the referee, I turned towards the net and saw the puck just floating. Then I saw something comes diving across, and it was him. That save was pretty awesome."
Thoughts on where that ranks among saves you've witnessed in your career… "Haven't seen many better up close. There are probably ten of his own this year that you could compare to that one."
Thoughts on how he acted after… "He was just laughing, it put a smile on my face. It's hard not to enjoy playing hockey when he's out there doing that."
VGK Video Coach Tommy Cruz On your perspective of save… "On the entry from the shot that hit the crossbar, it was so close to being offside that I was actually busy checking that. Then I heard everyone in the arena cheering so I had assumed something happened. It wasn't until after the TV timeout when they showed the replay that I saw it."
On amount of times you watched the save… "I definitely watched it a few times this morning. It was a big save at a big time of the game."
On how you would compare the save to other big moments in the past… "Looking back, I think it was as big a moment as we've ever had. I'd think of Shea Theodore's goal with seconds left to beat the Lightning and obviously all the playoff games, but that building last night was about as loud as I've ever heard it."
VGK Broadcaster Dave Goucher My first thought was, "Did I really see that?" But, watching Marc-Andre Fleury make one spectacular save after another over the last three seasons, you come to expect it. His reaction time amazed me. By my count it, took 1.5 seconds from the time Ilya Mikheyev's shot hit the cross bar to Nic Petan's rebound ended up in Fleury's glove. Right in the web of the glove, like a center fielder making a diving catch of a line drive. I've lost track of how many times I've yelled, "what a save by Fleury!" this season, but that stop last night took the cake. Certainly, he's made bigger saves in his career. Robbing Nicklas Lidstrom in the dying seconds to win the 2009 Stanley Cup would top the list.The back-to-back saves against the Jets in the Western Conference Final would be up there too. But in a regular season game, it's the best save I've seen him make.
VGK Broadcaster and former NHL player Shane Hnidy
"It's tough to compare anyone to The Dominator but Flower has some of that old school acrobat in him that not many goalies today have. Dominik Hasek was unique and made some of the most fantastic saves we'll ever see. Well this save was right up there. Lots of goalies today are shot blockers. They're huge and there isn't a lot of movement in their game. Fleury is technically sound but he's also one of the best athletes out there. He can make the routine save but he can also make the circus save. This save took me back to another time. It was incredible to witness."
VGK Broadcaster Daren Millard Desperation breeds brilliance. It's a line I coined a long time ago during my days ripping through highlight shows. Never before have those three words perfectly matched an athlete's actions. Marc-Andre Fleury's acrobatic denial of Toronto forward Nick Petan instantly cracked the top ten plays in team history. The timing of the save only adds to its legendary status, Fleury preserved a one-goal lead at a point of the season the Golden Knights are clawing for momentum. It was a statement save, backed up by blanking the Maple Leafs the rest of the way and cementing a victory. There are zero, but's… Fleury made the play that directly influenced the win.
The reality is, most of what I have said will fade over time. The situation of the game, the state of the Golden Knights season, and confidence gained to lock down a victory will disappear. What will remain is the pure physical brilliance of Fleury's reaction. From this point forward, it will be "the save" that all others are compared. It will be played over and over on the broadcasts, Knight Time, Knight Tron, and YouTube, and after each time, as Petan is watched gliding back to the Leafs bench, the same thing will be said over and over, "how did he do that." Only Fleury knows, and right now, he's hanging up his cape.