The Vegas Golden Knights fell 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks as Marc-Andre Fleury stole the spotlight on the ice with his return to T-Mobile Arena.
The night kicked off with an emotional video tribute to Blackhawks’ goaltender and a Las Vegas fan-favorite Fleury, leaving tears in his eyes. The announced crowd of 18,367 chanted his name until the puck was dropped.
Fleury returned to the ice for the first time since being traded from the Knights during the offseason. He spent four seasons with the Knights and was the face of the franchise, helping the team earn their high status in the NHL.
"Before the game, on the bench, going through my routine in the empty arena, and in warmups, having so many people close to the glass with signs and my jerseys and stuff, it was awesome,” Fleury said. “I’m very lucky and fortunate to still play hockey and do what I love and have the respect of my teammates and the fans and people in the community.”
It didn’t take long for Vegas to secure its spot on the scoreboard with Ben Hutton scoring his first goal of the season just five minutes into the game on a clear open shot.
Knight goalie Robin Lehner managed to block every one of the Blackhawks’ shots in the first period, entering the first intermission leading 1-0.
Chicago picked up the pace during the second period with forward Jujhar Khaira sending one past Lehner to tie the game, with an assist coming from Ryan Carpenter.
Ten minutes later, the Blackhawks stole the lead with Riley Stillman scoring a goal of his own, assisted by Dylan Strome.
"Obviously, big night for Flower and big night for their team,” Knights coach Pete DeBoer said. “You knew they were going to give everything they had and empty the tank and their group was going to play really hard for him knowing the meaning of the game for him. We knew that going in. You have to give them credit, starting with him. They played really hard.”
For the remainder of the game, Fleury silenced every attempt from the Golden Knights’ offense to tie the game as he secured the 2-1 Chicago victory.
Fleury managed to stop 30-of-31 shots on net from the Golden Knights.
Lehner ended his streak of six straight victories, allowing two goals on the first 11 shots he saw of the game.
The Golden Knights’ record drops to 23-14 as they continue their homestand and prepare to host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, Jan. 11. The puck drop for the game is set for 7 p.m.