Fleury has first shutout, leads Vegas past Capitals 3-0

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) and Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — Marc-Andre Fleury is beginning to look like his old, Stanley Cup-winning self.

Fleury stopped 26 shots for his first shutout with Vegas, William Karlsson scored during a three-goal first period and the Golden Knights beat the Washington Capitals 3-0 on Saturday night.

Alex Tuch and Oscar Lindberg also scored in the first period, helping Vegas win its eighth in nine games. The Golden Knights were 4-0-1 on this homestand and have a point in nine straight games.

"We got a big lead there, and after that we did a good job in front of the net. I can't say enough good things about how they did," said Fleury, who was perfect in his 699th career game and eighth since being selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. "I didn't change anything. I just tried to find the puck. It seemed like there was always people in front of the net. It was a great team effort."

Fleury stifled yet another NHL star in just his fourth start since returning from a concussion. The 14-year veteran beat former teammate and good friend Sidney Crosby and Pittsburgh on Dec. 14, topped league scoring leader Nikita Kucherov and Tampa Bay on Tuesday, and this time silenced Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals, a team that had scored at least four goals in six of nine games.

The Capitals hadn't been shut out since a 2-0 home loss to Toronto on Oct. 17 — the only other time they've been blanked this season.

Washington was 4-0-1 in its past five games and 8-1-1 in its last 10, but lost its second in two nights, including a defeat to the Coyotes.

"I thought the first period was real good, we came out and jumped on them early," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "(Fleury) has been real good. We know what we got when we got him in the expansion draft."

Tuch opened the scoring by tapping in Brendan Leipsic's rebound for his eighth of the season. Lindberg then took a pass from Tomas Nosek and punched in his seventh. Finally, Karlsson slapped a one-timer past Braden Holtby.

It could have been worse for Washington. Tuch's goal came moments after Leipsic missed on a breakaway, Jon Merrill had a solid attempt from the right slot that Holtby stymied, James Neal had two great looks and Jonathan Marchessault clanked a shot off the crossbar.

Holtby looked like the only rested player from a team that lost to the Coyotes in overtime the night before. He finished with 25 saves.

"I think if it was not for Holts it would be like 10-0 after the first period," Ovechkin said. "That's why he's one of the best goalies in the league."

The Knights improved to 15-2-1 at home. Their 15 home wins are tied for the most in the NHL with Tampa Bay. Vegas and the Lightning are the only two teams in the league with three or fewer losses at home this season.

"Every time we beat some good teams, the guys get some confidence," Gallant said. "It started from Day One. When you go out and you play good teams and you compete with them ... we can beat anybody."

NOTES: Vegas C Cody Eakin got his 100th assist. ... Reilly Smith is one game away from the 400th of his career. ... Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who has 735 career wins, remains one victory away from tying Lindy Ruff for fifth on the NHL's career wins list.

UP NEXT

Washington: At the New York Rangers on Wednesday night.

Vegas: At Anaheim on Wednesday night.

___

More AP hockey: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

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