ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Marc-Andre Fleury took sole possession of second place with his 552nd win in the NHL, posting his 74th career shutout as the Minnesota Wild beat the New York Islanders 5-0 on Monday.
Joel Eriksson Ek scored twice on special teams, Mats Zuccarello had a goal and an assist, and Connor Dewar and Marcus Foligno also scored for the Wild, who’d gone 1-7-1 in their previous nine games and enjoyed a much-needed celebration of the 39-year-old Fleury passing Patrick Roy on the all-time list.
“Finally, right? It’s been a little rough, lately. I wish we could have done this a little while ago, right?” Fleury said. “But I think everybody knows, everyone in this room, that we try to work our best.”
Martin Brodeur holds the record with 691 wins.
Fleury stopped 21 shots in his first shutout of the season. He was 1-4-1 in his six previous starts. The crowd chanted Fleury’s name after a difficult power-play save in the second period when the Wild outshot the sloppy and sluggish Islanders by a whopping 21-3. The serenade for the popular French-Canadian nicknamed Flower arose again in the closing minutes, and the entire Wild team mobbed him in the crease for postgame hugs.
Ilya Sorokin made 30 saves in two periods for the Islanders, setting a career-high by starting an 11th consecutive game. He’s the only goalie in the league who’s faced more than 1,000 shots to date, with an average of more than 34 allowed by the Islanders in his appearances this season.
“I just didn’t like our effort at all. I didn’t think we were 100% committed to playing the game the right way right from the start, and it just kind of snowballed,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said.
Kenneth Appleby took over in net after the second intermission, with the Islanders trailing 3-0 and facing another game the following night. Semyon Varlamov has been sidelined for six games and counting with a lower-body injury. Appleby made his first NHL appearance in nearly six years, when he was with New Jersey. He let in a short-handed goal by Eriksson Ek and Foligno’s flip-in in the final minute.
“We needed a little more plays from guys, and we got it,” Foligno said. “It was special that we played the way we did.”
The Islanders took six penalties, and Zuccarello and Eriksson Ek scored on the power play. The Islanders, who have lost four of their last five games, have also dropped six consecutive games to the Wild.
“We were just awful,” veteran right-wing Cal Clutterbuck said.
The Wild were booed by their home fans two days ago during a 6-0 loss to Arizona that triggered a players-only meeting afterward, and they responded quite well.
General manager Bill Guerin said before the game he’s not ready to give up on the playoffs and shed salary, despite the club sitting well below the cut in 13th place in the Western Conference.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin returned from a 17-game absence due to an upper-body injury he sustained on Dec. 8, bringing the Wild as close to full strength as they’ve been in nearly three weeks.
Zuccarello scored on a power-play slap shot from behind the left circle just 2:21 in for his first goal in 20 games since Dec. 3. He missed nine with an injury.
Dewar ended a 17-game goal drought. Eriksson Ek had gone 10 straight games without scoring.
The Wild are 14-2-4 when scoring first. Their last regulation win was on Dec. 27 against Detroit.