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October 23, 2017

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Analysis: Marc-Andre Fleury difference for Golden Knights in opening night win

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LM Otero / AP

Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury blocks a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars in Dallas, Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.

DALLS — James Neal has received much of the credit for the Golden Knights 2-1 opening night win in Dallas, and deservedly so. Neal scored both goals for Vegas, including the spectacular game-winner from his knees.

But if it weren’t for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury’s performance for the first 50 minutes of the game, the Dallas Stars would have been too far ahead for Neal’s goals to matter.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion saved 45 of the 46 shots he faced, keeping the Golden Knights within striking distance.

Here are three of Fleury’s best moments of the night, and a bonus look at Neal’s game-winning goal.

Fleury made the original save on a strong wrist shot from Esa Lindell, then managed to keep the rebound in front of him while Antoine Roussel crashed into him.

“I had a few shots early so I was able to get into the game,” Fleury said. “The first game you’re always a little more excited so it was good to get into it early.”

Fleury didn’t have to make the save on the initial breakaway, but appeared to have his leg in the way in case he did, then saved the second attempt after a pass back.

“We’re not going to give up 40-some shots a game and be successful, but we had some great chances ourselves,” Gerard Gallant said. “Fleury stole this game for us.”

One of the most impressive sequences of the night, Fleury saved the initial shot through traffic, then somehow managed to make it over to save the rebound.

“When I play I expect to save them all,” Fleury said. “I want to save them all. I got a few good bounces here and there to keep it at one but I’ll take it.”

Have one more look at Neal’s game-winning goal to seal the first win in team history.

Jesse Granger can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Jesse on Twitter at twitter.com/JesseGranger_.

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