In his 15th season in the NHL, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury continued to trend in the right direction as he put together one of the strongest seasons of his career in 2018-19.
Fleury, 34, made 61 starts for the Golden Knights during his second season with the franchise. He posted an overall record of 35-21-5 to help Vegas finish third in the Pacific Division and reach the playoffs for the second year in a row. Consistency was key to Fleury's success as he balanced a mark of 18-11-4 at home with a 17-10-1 record on the road. His 35-win season was the eighth such campaign in his career and first as a Golden Knight.
On Oct. 13, Fleury made 26 saves for his first shutout of the season including multiple highlight-reel stops as Vegas defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0, at Wells Fargo Center.
Video: VGK@PHI: Fleury reaches back to make amazing save
He went on to notch seven more clean sheets to finish second in the NHL in shutouts with eight. It was the second-highest total he had collected in his career and Fleury sees no reason to stop putting up impressive marks.
"I felt good. I felt like I could play the whole season, play all the games," Fleury said. "I love to play the game and it's good to be out there. I'm just trying to give a chance to the team to win and I'm fortunate to be playing with a good team, right, and that helps my numbers too, I guess."
Strong single season numbers weren't the only stats Fleury put up in 2018-19. He checked off some major career milestones throughout the season and joined elite company in NHL history. In January, Fleury was named to the NHL All-Star Game for the fourth time in his career. He passed Glenn Hall (407), Tony Esposito (423) and Jacques Plante (437) on the all-time wins list and now owns eighth on that list with 439 victories. He will begin the 2019-20 campaign seven wins back of Terry Sawchuk (445) for seventh in league history.
Video: VGK@VAN: Fleury passes Plante on all-time wins list
Fleury put together two different six-game win streaks during the season. The first came from Nov. 18-29 as he picked up wins against the Edmonton Oilers (Nov. 18), Arizona Coyotes (Nov. 21), Calgary Flames (Nov. 23), San Jose Sharks (Nov. 24), Chicago Blackhawks (Nov. 27) and Vancouver Canucks (Nov. 29). He pitched consecutive shutouts against the Flames and Sharks during that stretch and totaled 175 saves on 186 shots during the six contests.
In the midst of a brief winless streak in mid-February, Fleury and the team received an emotional boost when 8-year-old Jace Owen and 12-year-old Jay Procter joined the club for a practice. Both were dealing with challenging illnesses but spent the day smiling as they met Fleury and skated with the Golden Knights.
Video: Make-A-Wish: Fleury Mic'd Up
Fleury went on to rattle off six wins in a row again late in the season from Feb. 26 to March 15. Fleury started that streak with a 24-save win against the Dallas Stars and ended it with a 41-stop showing against Dallas. He put up back-to-back shutouts against Anaheim on March 1 and Vancouver on March 3 and allowed just five goals on 188 shots during the six-game heater.
Video: VGK@DAL: Fleury turns away Klingberg with glove
The achievement that Fleury is most proud of is the fact that the Golden Knights have made the playoffs in each of their first two seasons. Continued success is the organization's goal going forward and Fleury wants to be part of a group that sets high goals for itself.
"If two years you would have said you are in playoffs two years in a row, it's a great accomplishment," Fleury said. "We are here to win. I think we have a very solid team, we have a great bunch of guys and great chemistry. I think my last two seasons maybe have been the best of my career. I've just got to keep working, you know, stay in shape and try to do better next year."