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Fleury, Tuch guide Knights to tie series against Wild

Clutch performances from goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and the speedy former draft pick of the Minnesota Wild, Alex Tuch, helped Vegas tie the first-round series with a 3-1 win Tuesday at T-Mobile Arena.


“The Fortress” was restless for a playoff goal from its Knights as the team failed to put the puck in net all of game one and for the first period of game two. Minnesota also took the early lead on a defenseman Matt Dumba missile from near center ice that Fleury couldn’t track because his line of sight was blocked.


But if not for Fleury’s first period heroics, the Knights could have seen themselves down by at least three goals.


Vegas will need a complete, 60-minute effort on Thursday as the Knights will travel to Minnesota for game three with the series tied at one apiece.


The Knights are expected to have forward Max Pacioretty back for game three.


Puck drop is at 6:30 p.m.


Vegas was out-hustled for the first 25 minutes of the game and failed to match the energy and intensity brought forth from Minnesota.


Reliable center Jonathan Marchessault scored his first goal of the 2021 NHL Playoffs on a slick shot squeezing between Minnesota’s Cam Talbot and the goal post shortly after Dumba’s goal.


“I just sensed we were a different group after that goal,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer told ESPN. “It was great timing by Marchy to get that one right away obviously and put us back in the game. The importance of actually getting a goal can’t be minimized because I thought we were much better after that.”


DeBoer thought correctly as five minutes later Tuch would find the back of the net on a spoon-fed pass from center Mattias Janmark.


Janmark fired the puck from directly behind the net to the cutting Tuch who was coming from the opposing middle ice.


Talbot had no clue where the puck was until Tuch fired it right past him to give Vegas a 2-1 lead.


The Knights and Wild would exchange blows in the third period until Vegas entered a power play late.


Tuch would convert on the back-handed goal to seal the victory for the Knights.


“That was our mentality, to try to get inside of them,” Tuch told ESPN. “They like to pack it in, especially in the D-zone. They’re a really good defensive team, so if we’re able to get to the inside, get pucks in there and just kind of whack at him, get a few lucky bounces, it’ll be huge for this series.”


Fleury, meanwhile, got the second consecutive starting nod for Vegas over goaltender Robin Lehner.


It is Fleury’s second consecutive start since Lehner returned from injury in March. It is unclear who the starter will be for game three in Minnesota, but Fleury has cemented himself as the clear starter for playoff hockey.


Fleury stopped 34-of-35 shots and kept Vegas afloat while the offense sputtered for the first period and change.


“I thought those first two games, our guys have been great at letting me see the puck,” Fleury told ESPN. “And when I don’t, most of the time they block it. I thought our defense has done a great job with that and certainly helps me out a lot.”


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