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Fleury to start for Golden Knights against Coyotes

Goalie has been out since March 15 with undisclosed injury

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

LAS VEGAS -- Marc-Andre Fleury will start for the Vegas Golden Knights against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; ATTSN-RM, FS-A, NHL.TV).

The goalie hasn't played since March 15 because of an undisclosed injury. But he skated Monday, then practiced Tuesday and Wednesday.

After practice Wednesday, Fleury said he hoped to play at in least one of the Golden Knights' two remaining regular-season games before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin next week.

"We'll see what [coach Gerard Gallant] wants," Fleury said. "But at least the last one. Hopefully maybe tomorrow too."

Video: VGK@DAL: Fleury turns away Klingberg with glove

The Golden Knights (43-30-7) will finish in third place in the Pacific Division and play the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round. The Coyotes (38-34-8) need a win against the Golden Knights and a regulation loss by the Colorado Avalanche to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday to stay in playoff contention.

Fleury said he felt fortunate to heal in time for the final two regular-season games.

"I'm happy, just to get your timing," Fleury said. "I find you can do a lot in practice, a lot in the gym, but it's never like a game. So I think it would be good to get out there and get into traffic, try to find pucks and get used to the speed of the game a bit again. So it'll be good."

Fleury was an integral part of the Golden Knights' run to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season of 2017-18. Before they lost to the Washington Capitals in five games in the Final, he was 12-3 with .947 save percentage and four shutouts through three rounds. He went 4-2 with a .935 save percentage and two shutouts against San Jose in the second round.

He started 59 of the Golden Knights' first 71 games this season, going 35-19-5 with a 2.46 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage and eight shutouts. The Golden Knights are 4-3-2 since he was injured.

"He's our best player," forward Jonathan Marchessault said Wednesday. "Obviously I think it was a smart decision just to rest him before the playoffs like that. It's something that a couple guys there worried about, [that] he was playing so many games since the beginning of the season. Right now he's healthy, he's ready to go. Two more games left, and he's going to be great for us."

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