Fleury gets sixth shutout, Golden Knights top Kings 2-0
LAS VEGAS (AP) — During his two-game stint with the Vegas Golden Knights last year, Brandon Pirri recognized the key to the team’s success in its inaugural season was each player sticking to his role.
In the seven games he’s played this season since being called up from the AHL, Pirri has had one role: to score goals.
“I think that’s why they signed me, whether I was in Chicago or here,” said Pirri, who also had an assist. “I gotta stick to my strengths. “(Coach Gerard Gallant) put me in a fantastic position to succeed where I’m playing with two really skilled guys and it’s working right now.”
On the other end of the ice, Fleury didn’t make it easy on anyone among the 18,318 in attendance who have New Year’s fitness resolutions, as he got his league-leading sixth shutout.
With proof of a ticket to the game, local Krispy Kreme outlets offer one dozen free donuts the day after Fleury gets a shutout.
“They’re so tasty too,” said a grinning Fleury, who improved to 7-0-3 in his last 10 appearances dating to Dec. 9. “I think it’s gonna test everybody’s will. Maybe they can start (their resolutions) on the third.”
Fleury earned his 23rd win in his 37th start — both league-bests — and Alex Tuch added an empty-netter in the final minute.
The Golden Knights, who are 8-1-3 in their last 12 games, beat the Kings for the second time in four days after winning in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Boosted by a four-game win streak after a three-day Christmas break, the Golden Knights have 52 points to tie Calgary atop the Pacific Division, and both are even with Winnipeg in the West. However, the Flames have played three fewer games than Vegas, and Jets have four games in hand.
“Since the Christmas break, we’ve played great hockey,” Gallant said. “It feels like we’ve got a lot more energy in our step and the guys are playing well and working hard. So, I love the way we played the last four games.”
The Golden Knights have also improved defensively during the four-game streak, allowing just two power-play goals in 14 opportunities (85.7 percent), while Fleury and Malcolm Subban have stopped 106 of 109 shots (97.2 save percentage).
“Right now, I think we’re clicking in a lot of different areas, we’re working hard, we’re going to the net putting pucks there and playing the percentages,” said Cody Eakin, who assisted on Pirri’s goal. “Defensively we’re doing pretty good and I think that’s been throughout the whole lineup.”
Los Angeles goalie Jack Campbell, who was reactivated on Monday, had a career-high 46 saves. While it’s normally Fleury who is diving between the pipes making flashy saves, Campbell’s biggest save came during a Golden Knights power play. Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault fired a one-timer at a wide open net, but Campbell came flying from the right post to the left to block the shot and keep the game scoreless.
“It felt kind of brutal in the first period, I was kind of like excited nervous in a good way,” said Campbell, whose first NHL win was inside T-Mobile, where he made 41 saves in a 4-1 win over the Golden Knights last February. “It took me 20 minutes to get kind of settled in and I felt like I found my game after that. I just needed one more save.”
The Kings have gone on a 5-2-1 tear in their last eight games to move out of last place in the West, one point ahead of St. Louis, which has 34.
NOTES: Eakin is one game shy of his 500th, while Marchessault is one away from 300. … Kings D Drew Doughty has played in 369 consecutive games, dating to Oct. 8, 2014. … Kings F Anze Kopitar, who has recorded points in eight of the last 11 games (2 goals, 7 assists) had his four-game point streak snapped. He is one goal shy of 300 in his career.
Kings: Host Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
Golden Knights: At Anaheim on Friday night.