Fleury expected to return as Knights face Hurricanes
LAS VEGAS — Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is slated to make his return from a concussion Tuesday night when surging Vegas hosts the slumping Carolina Hurricanes at the T-Mobile Arena.
Fleury, a 14-year NHL veteran, has missed 25 games since Oct. 13, when Detroit Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha crashed into him. Mantha’s knee collided with Fleury’s head, resulting in the third concussion of the goaltender’s career.
The Golden Knights have succeeded with Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk and Maxime Lagace adequately taking his place. The Knights went 16-8-1 without Fleury. They are in second place in the Pacific Division with a 19-9-1 record and 39 points, four behind the Los Angeles Kings.
Vegas is riding a four-game winning streak.
“I’m excited to be back,” Fleury said after practice Monday. “Obviously, it was difficult sitting out and not being able to help the team. I wish I could have come back sooner. But the other goalies did a great job.”
Fleury, who is expected to start against Carolina, was 3-1 with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage when he went on injured reserve.
He sustained two concussions during the 2015-16 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He missed two weeks in December 2015 and went out again in April 2016.
“When we got him (in the expansion draft), he was the face of our franchise, and he’s a big part of our club,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “He looks real good. He seems quick. He’s missed a lot of time, but he’s been on the ice the past week and he seems like he’s ready to go. We’re all excited to have him back.”
The Knights start a five-game homestand against Carolina, which lost 3-2 to a physical Anaheim team Monday night. The Hurricanes (11-11-7) may be travel-weary playing for the second night in a row and the fifth time on a six-game road trip that concludes in Buffalo on Friday.
They are 0-2-2 in the trip, including overtime defeats at San Jose and Los Angeles.
“We’ve got to start winning games,” said center Victor Rask, who scored one of Carolina’s goals against Anaheim on Monday. “We’ve been playing good. We’ve just got to get that next step. This is a stretch where we’ve got to win games.”
Vegas hopes to build on its success at T-Mobile, where it is 11-2. The Golden Knights will play all five games in the homestand against Eastern Conference opponents — Carolina, Pittsburgh, Florida, Tampa Bay and Washington, all of which have not faced Vegas.
“I’ve heard good things about the atmosphere and arena,” Carolina coach Bill Peters said. “I look forward to getting the opportunity to bounce back and get two points.”
Fleury must guard against looking ahead to Thursday, when his former team, two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh, comes to Las Vegas.
“I know it’s coming; I can’t hide it,” said Fleury, who played all of his previous 13 NHL seasons with the Penguins. “But there is still a game to be played and a few practices before that. To have a chance to face them for the first time will be nice. I’m looking forward to it.”