Marc-Andre Fleury solely in second place in all-time wins

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Tuesday, January 16, 2024

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Marc-Andre Fleury took sole possession of second place with his 552nd win in the NHL, posting his 74th career shutout as the Minnesota Wild defeated the New York Islanders 5-0 on Monday.

Joel Eriksson Ek scored twice on special teams, Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist, and Connor Dewar and Marcus Foligno also scored for the Wild, who'd gone 1-7-1 in their previous nine games and enjoyed a much-needed celebration of the 39-year-old Fleury passing Patrick Roy on the all-time list.

"I'm glad it's over; we can stop talking about it," Fleury said in his on-ice interview after the game. "It's about time we got one, but it's an honor to be here in Minnesota, to be in front of the fans. They've been great, and so, that's awesome."

Fleury stopped 21 shots in his first shutout of the season, after authoring a 1-4-1 stretch in his six previous starts.

"The way he played tonight, we had a few breakdowns, and you needed key saves at key times," Wild coach John Hynes said. "And we got them from him."

The crowd chanted Fleury's name after a difficult power-play save in the second period, when the Wild outshot the sloppy and sluggish Islanders by a whopping 21-3.

"If you looked at how the team rushed out after the game to congratulate him, it shows what type of teammate he is and what he means to the NHL and every organization he's played for," Hynes said. "He's a special guy and a special player."

The serenade for the popular French-Canadian player nicknamed "Flower" arose again in the closing minutes, and the entire Wild team mobbed him in the crease for postgame hugs.

Two of Fleury's three children -- the other was recovering from tonsil surgery -- greeted him at his stall in the Wild locker room after the win. The team quickly announced a celebration night for Fleury on Feb. 9 when the Wild host the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team he won his three Stanley Cup titles with over 13 seasons.

He played in another Cup Final with the 2017-18Vegas Golden Knights, moved on to the Chicago Blackhawks and then arrived in Minnesota in a midseason trade two years ago for what has widely been assumed to be the final stop of his decorated career. Fleury, who also has 92 wins and 16 shutouts in 169 playoff games, has not revealed whether he'd like to play next season after his contract expires this summer.

"He's probably the best guy I've ever played with there on the team," Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin said. "He cares about the team, and he's such a good guy. I'm so happy for him."

Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves in two periods for the Islanders, setting a career high by starting an 11th consecutive game. He is the only goalie in the league who has faced more than 1,000 shots to date, with an average of more than 34 allowed by the Islanders in his appearances this season.

Kenneth Appleby took over in net after the second intermission, with the Islanders trailing 3-0 and facing another game the following night. Semyon Varlamov has been sidelined for six games and counting by a lower-body injury. Appleby made his first NHL appearance in nearly six years, when he was with the New Jersey Devils. He let in a short-handed goal by Eriksson Ek, then Foligno's flip-in in the final minute.

The Islanders took six penalties, and Zuccarello and Eriksson Ek scored on the power play. The Islanders have lost four of their past five contests and also have dropped six consecutive games to the Wild.

The Wild were booed by their home fans two days prior during a 6-0 loss to theArizona Coyotesthat triggered a players-only meeting, and Minnesota responded quite well.

Wild general manager Bill Guerin said before Monday's game he isn't ready to give up on the playoffs and shed salary, despite the club sitting well below the cut in 13th place in the Western Conference.

Brodin returned from a 17-game absence due to an upper-body injury he sustained on Dec. 8, bringing the Wild as close to full strength as they've been in nearly three weeks.

Zuccarello scored on a power-play slap shot from behind the left circle just 2:21 into the game; it was his first goal in 20 games after missing nine because of an injury. Dewar ended a 17-game goal drought. Eriksson Ek had gone 10 straight games without scoring.

The Wild are 14-2-4 when scoring first. Their most recent regulation win was on Dec. 27 against theDetroit Red Wings.

Hall of Fame netminder Martin Brodeur, who won three Stanley Cup titles with the Devils, holds the all-time record in front of Fleury with 691 wins.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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