Updated April 11, 2021 - 6:09 pm
Marc-Andre Fleury’s goal support has dried up in recent weeks, and he didn’t get much help in that area Sunday, either.
This time, he made it stand up.
Fleury blanked the Arizona Coyotes 1-0 at T-Mobile Arena to move into a tie for fourth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list.
Tomas Nosek scored with 9:22 remaining to help the second-place Knights (27-11-2, 56 points) sweep the two-game series from the Coyotes and move five points ahead of Minnesota in the West Division.
“The last few games have been hard,” Fleury said. “It gets frustrating, for sure. Maybe we weren’t scoring as much as we used to in those games, too, but I didn’t make the key saves to keep us in and get us those wins.
“Tonight was a different style game, less shots. A little harder mentally, but it still feels nice to get the win at the end.”
Knights forward Ryan Reaves knocked Coyotes defenseman Jordan Gross out of the game with a thunderous hit in the first period that Arizona thought should have been penalized. The Knights took exception to a low hit by Arizona’s Conor Garland on Mark Stone late in the third period, and the teams exchanged words after the final buzzer sounded.
“It was a little chippy,” left wing Jonathan Marchessault said.
Fleury snapped a personal three-game losing streak and earned his 484th career victory, tying Ed Belfour for fourth in NHL history.
He matched Colorado’s Philipp Grubauer for the league lead with his fifth shutout and moved into a tie with Patrick Roy for 15th all time with his 66th career shutout.
Fleury faced 14 shots on goal, the fewest the Knights have allowed in a game in franchise history. He improved to 18-10 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.
“Our team played really solid defensively all game long,” Fleury said. “Their best chances maybe came early when they had that power play. Other than that, I thought we shut them down. It got lonely sometimes back there by myself.”
The Knights produced nine goals in Fleury’s previous six starts, and that inconsistency on offense could lead general manager Kelly McCrimmon to make a move before Monday’s trade deadline.
Coyotes goaltender Adin Hill bounced back from getting pulled Friday and finished with 28 stops. The Knights hit the post or crossbar four times, including twice by Max Pacioretty in the first period, before breaking through midway through the third.
Pacioretty, who was sent headfirst into the boards on the previous shift, took out his frustrations with a hard check on Arizona defenseman Jakob Chychrun in the corner to free the puck. Marchessault found Nosek streaking down the slot, and he buried his seventh goal, one shy of his career high.
Nosek celebrated by blowing a kiss to his wife and first-born son, who were among the announced crowd of 3,950.
“I had a highway to the net, and there was a (defenseman) standing in front of me. I just tried to not hit him,” Nosek said.
Defenseman Zach Whitecloud rejoined the Knights’ lineup after missing the past five games with an upper-body injury, but forward Keegan Kolesar left in the second period with a hip injury, according to coach Pete DeBoer. Reaves also was injured in the third period.
“I thought our desperation level matched theirs,” DeBoer said. “We played with some grit when we needed to and some skill when we needed to.”