Marc-Andre Fleury made the best save of his career against Nic Petan. Now they’re Wild teammates
Both players shared their thoughts on the highlight-reel save
ST. PAUL — Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury still doesn’t consider it the best save of his career.
As long as he lives, that distinction is reserved for his denial of Red Wings legend Nicklas Lidstrom in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final. In the waning seconds, Fleury scrambled to get himself square with Lidstrom. He left his skates completely, positioned his body like he was diving in front of a bullet, and stopped the puck as time expired.
It makes sense that Fleury still holds that save near and dear to his heart. It proved to be the difference as the Penguins were crowned Stanley Cup champions. The magnitude of the moment separates it from every other save he’s ever made.
When considering the degree of difficulty, though, Fleury’s magnum opus came more than a decade later. On Nov. 19, 2019, he made what the masses consider to be the best save of his career, robbing a young player by the name of Nic Petan on the doorstep.
Now teammates in the Wild locker room, Fleury and Petan sat down with the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Friday to discuss the highlight.
The details of the play itself aren’t lost on either player. At the time, Fleury was playing for the Golden Knights and Petan was playing for the Maple Leafs.
The sequence started with Maple Leafs winger Ilya Mikheyev ringing a shot off the crossbar while on the rush.
“It went in the corner and it hit the ref,” Fleury recalled. “I was finding it slowly then it bounced right to him. Not as much time as I thought. I saw him shoot and I tried to save it.”
That he did. In an act of desperation, Fleury leapt across the crease and snatched the puck out of midair, sending the home crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas into oblivion.
“Disbelief,” Petan said after rewatching the play on YouTube. “As a guy going up and down at the time, a goal goes a long way there, so it would’ve been nice to get that.”
Asked what was going through his head when he realized he was out of position, Fleury smiled and replied with a word not fit for print.
“Luckily, it was on his backhand,” Fleury said. “That gave me a little more time to get across and judge the height and catch it.”
Maybe the outcome would’ve been different had Petan shot right-handed. In that scenario, he would’ve received the bouncing puck on his forehand, and theoretically, he would’ve been able to get a lot more on the shot.
Instead, Petan will forever be on the other end of a career highlight for Fleury.
“Not sure it would’ve made a difference with Flower in there,” Petan said with a laugh. “I’m just glad I got the shot off.”
The ability to sprawl across the crease so suddenly still doesn’t compute to Petan. That athleticism has long been a hallmark of Fleury’s style between the pipes. He showcased it once again in Thursday’s win, stretching his blocker out to deny Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
“Those are the most fun saves,” he said. “The shooter thinks it’s going to go in and then it doesn’t go in. You see them on the jumbotron shaking their head. It’s fun.”
That’s exactly the reaction Petan had once upon a time. When it was suggested that Petan could have used that goal a lot more than Fleury could use the save at point in their careers, the 38-year-old goaltender expressed some sympathy.
“Oh, jeez,” Fleury said. “Sorry, Nic.”
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