Marc-Andre Fleury will play in the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive year, this time with the Vegas Golden Knights.
The 33-year-old goalie, who won the Cup three times with the Pittsburgh Penguins, including the past two years, made 31 saves in Vegas' 2-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final on Sunday. Fleury made at least 30 saves for the fourth straight game, and is 12-3 with a 1.68 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and four shutouts in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Fleury is set to compete in his fifth Cup Final, this time with Golden Knights forward James Neal as his teammate. The two faced one another in the 2017 Final when Fleury and the Penguins defeated Neal and the Nashville Predators in six games. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Chris Kunitz, the only active NHL player to win the Cup four times, played for the Penguins' Cup-winning teams in 2016 and 2017.
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Fleury's 74 NHL postseason wins are tied with Chris Osgood for eighth on the all-time list and three behind Mike Vernon for seventh place. He is one of 14 active NHL players with three Stanley Cup titles, entering the 2018 playoffs. He also has a Golden Knights-high 115 games of postseason experience and is the only Cup winner on the roster.
Including Fleury, 37 different players in NHL history reached the Cup Final in consecutive years with different teams entering 2018. Six won the Cup each time: Eddie Gerard, Lionel Conacher, Ed Litzenberger, Al Arbour, Claude Lemieux and Cory Stillman. Gerard won the Cup in four straight seasons (1920-23). He played for the original Ottawa Senators each year but was loaned to the Toronto St. Patricks for one game during the 1922 Final, so he earned his name on the Cup when Toronto defeated the Vancouver Millionaires in the best-of-five series.
Video: VGK@WPG, Gm5: Fleury on series, going to Cup Final
Fleury helped the Golden Knights become the seventh team in NHL history to reach the Final after winning three series-clinching games on the road, with five of the past six winning the Stanley Cup. It's the third straight year a team will make its Cup Final debut. Those teams are 11-17 all-time with the past three series ending in defeat. The San Jose Sharks (2016) and Predators (2017) each lost to the Penguins in six games, and the 2007 Ottawa Senators lost to the Anaheim Ducks in five. The 2004 Lightning were the last team to win the Cup in its first trip to the Final.
Vegas is the 13th team to win at least 12 of 15 games to start a postseason since the four-round, best-of-7 format was established in 1986-87. The 2012 Los Angeles Kings, 1988 Edmonton Oilers and 1987 Oilers each started 13-2 en route to winning the Stanley Cup. The 1993 champion Montreal Canadiens also won 12 of 15 games entering the Final.
The Golden Knights are the 20th team to win four straight games in a conference final or NHL Semifinal and the seventh to do so after losing Game 1 since 1974-75, joining the Philadelphia Flyers (1976, 1980), New York Islanders (1984), Oilers (1987), Penguins (1991) and Vancouver Canucks (1994). The Lightning will join this list and become the third team to rally from down 2-0 in a conference final (1984 Islanders, 1991 Penguins) with a victory against the Capitals on Monday.
Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final Coverage
Lightning vs. Capitals
Jets vs. Golden Knights