Behind the fight between Marc-Andre Fleury and Jordan Binnington that almost happened

ST. LOUIS – Marc-Andre Fleury wanted to be surrounded by reporters late Wednesday night – what happens when you almost get into a goalie fight.

And Fleury’s Wild goalie tandem partner Filip Gustavsson gave him some tips.

“Tell them he didn’t want to fight you,” Gustavsson said, smiling. “He was scared.”

Fleury just laughed. This game, Wild Season’s most entertaining, didn’t need any extra spice. There was plenty of juicy quotes and color from what the national television audience was watching. There was a hat trick. A match penalty. A crazy comeback, the Wilds’ 8-5 win that extended their franchise-record point streak to 14 (11-0-3).

But what everyone will remember was the fight that could have been. The image of Fleury rushing into the blues zone to go after Jordan Binnington, who had just delivered a goofball to Ryan Hartman after the wild center clipped him after his second-period goal. Fleury heard Binnington hit one of his teammates in the crotch with his stick in the first half and when Binnington smacked Hartman in the face with the pointed end of the blocker, the veteran goalkeeper had had enough.

“I felt that My Dude,” Fleury said. “I had to take care of him.”

Fleury threw off his helmet and rolled up his sleeves. The crowd was jacked up.

As Ric Flair would say, appropriate to the game, “WOOOOOOO!”

“It kind of felt like it was our moment,” Binnington said.

“Old-school hockey,” said Wild coach Dean Evason.

“That would have been good for the league,” said Brayden Schenn. “People talk about the stuff.”

Fleury has spoken out about getting into a fight being one of the last things on the bucket list of a Hall of Famer’s career. But veteran referees Kelly Sutherland and Gord Dwyer held off both goalkeepers. Told them it wouldn’t happen.

“It would have been fun,” Fleury said. “The audience was on their feet. I’ve never had a fight in my career so it would have been pretty cool. A pity.”

Where do we even begin with this one?

The fact that former Blues Cup champion Oskar Sundqvist scored – and was a footnote – the crucial goal on his return to St. Louis says everything you need to know about how wild that game was. Or the fact that defenseman Jake Middleton fell ill in the afternoon so the Wild had to bring scheduled scratch Calen Addison into the arena and he showed up just before warm-up. The game was looking dull, a Minnesota streak snapper as they fell 3-1 behind after the first period.

Then came a first heart to heart break.

“We were frustrated,” said defenseman Alex Goligoski. “It didn’t look like we were getting the bounces and it felt like we were playing well, just making mistakes and it ended up in our net. We realigned, said the right things.

“‘We’re going to win this game. Just go to work.’”

You did just that. John Klingberg started with his first goal for Minnesota, a floating shot from the point. Then Sundqvist tied it out of his office, the blue color. And Mason Shaw continued the hot streak of the fourth row by scoring the team’s third goal in a minute and 58 seconds.

That’s when Binnington – known for his outbursts – started chirping the wild bank. Ryan Reaves and Shaw returned it.

What did he say?

“I don’t know,” Reaves said. “He had marbles in his mouth. I couldn’t understand it.”

“You just knew he was going to do something eventually,” Hartman said.

Six minutes later all hell broke loose.

Hartman scored a power play goal to finally give the Savages the lead. He attempted to skate to the corner for the celebration, but the momentum propelled Hartman toward a still-extended Binnington. Hartman cut off Binnington’s block as he tried to lift his skate over him.

Binnington got up immediately, charged into the celebration and hit Hartman with his stick/blocker arm.

“Nothing new from him,” Hartman said. “He’s been doing stuff like that for a while.”

“It was a tough game,” said Binnington. “They are a tough team to play against. They’re tough around the net and I just felt like it was reaching a certain point… Goals were coming in so it was frustrating. I just felt like, yes, that was the moment.”

Binnington received a five-minute match penalty. He was ejected. But he decided that this was the moment he would step onto the center ice and heat up the crowd.

“I don’t know exactly what he did,” said Reaves, who played with Binnington in St. Louis. “He just got buried, took a five-minute penalty and tried to cheer the crowd? It was a strange time cheering for the crowd. Hey, guess the power play I guess.”

Reaves joked on the TNT pregame show that he was “heated up” offensively after his Gordie Howe hat-trick in Arizona on Sunday. And Reaves followed it up with a goal and an assist, marking the first time in his 800-game career that he had back-to-back multi-point games. It is only the fourth time he has scored in consecutive games.

“Kirill (Kaprizov) is out, I have to step up. It lands on my shoulders,” Reaves joked. “Everyone has gained”

The Wild have amazingly scored 17 goals in their first three games since Kaprizov’s injury (which has sidelined him for 3-4 weeks). It was the eighth time in franchise history that the Wild had scored eight goals in a game and the third time away.

“Like we said, ‘Who needs Kirill?'” Evason joked.

Evason said assistant Brett McLean walked in on the second break and said, “Boy, there was a lot to unpack in that period.” The Wild head coach said you never want to see your goalkeeper fight, but he loved the idea of ​​boys sticking together. The attack on Binnington and the melee that followed did not bother him.

“Old school hockey,” he said. “Looks familiar.”

Fleury said a few days ago that he wouldn’t mind a fight. He noted he got into one in Junior and broke his ankle, forcing him to miss a few weeks. “It’s the end of our season, so no time for that,” he said. “It’s not the right time to be fooling around.”

He changed his mind on Wednesday. It didn’t take him long to decide he was going to do it.

“That was pretty quick,” Fleury said. “One of the guys said[Binnington]hit her in the nut sack. May I say Nutsack? Then when I saw him throw another one at our guy, that was the right time.”

One of the league’s top fighters, Reaves said he gave Fleury tips before the game just in case he got into a fight. “He said he wanted it,” Reaves said. “They both went back and forth. I wish the referees would have let him go.”

“You just would have liked to see it – Binner vs. Marc-Andre Fleury on TNT,” said Schenn. “If you’re looking for viewership and ratings and people talking about the game … that’s one way to do it.”

(Photo: Joe Pütz/NHLI via Getty Images)

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