Behind the Marc-André Fleury-Jordan Binnington fight that almost happened

ST. LOUIS — Marc-Andre Fleury was about to be surrounded by reporters late Wednesday night — that’s what happens when you’re about to get into a fight with a goalie.

And Filip Gustavsson, partner of the Wild de Fleury goalkeeper tandem, gave him some advice.

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

Fleury just laughed. This game, the Wild’s most entertaining of the season, didn’t need any extra spice. There were plenty of juicy and colorful quotes from what the national television audience had just seen. There was a hat trick. A match penalty. A crazy comeback, the Wild’s 8-5 victory extending its points streak with a franchise record to 14 (11-0-3).

But what everyone will remember is the fight that could have been. The image of Fleury rushing to the Blues area to tackle Jordan Binnington, who had just thrown a punch at Ryan Hartman after the Wild’s cross cut him off after his second period goal. Fleury heard Binnington hit one of his teammates in the crotch with his stick in the first period, so when Binnington hit Hartman in the face with the pointed end of the blocker, the veteran goalie had had enough.

“I felt it was My dude,” Fleury said. “I had to take care of him.”

Fleury threw away his helmet, he rolled up his sleeves. The crowd was shocked.

As Ric Flair would say, aptly gambling, “WOOOOOOOO!”

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

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

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

Fleury has talked about fighting as one of the last things on the bucket list of a Hall of Fame career. But veteran referees Kelly Sutherland and Gord Dwyer held off both goalies. I told them that wouldn’t happen.

“That would have been fun,” Fleury said. “The crowd was standing. I’ve never had a fight in my career, so that would have been pretty cool. Damage.”

Where do we even start with this one?

The fact that former Blues Cup champion Oskar Sundqvist scored the tying goal on his return to St. Louis – and was a footnote – says all you need to know about the madness of this game . Or the fact that defenseman Jake Middleton fell ill in the afternoon, so the Wild had to rush scheduled scratch Calen Addison to the arena, and he showed up just before warmups. The game looked like a boring Minnesota snapper as they trailed 3-1 after the first period.

Then came a heart-to-heart first intermission.

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

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

That’s exactly what they did. John Klingberg started with his first goal for Minnesota, a float shot from the point. Then Sundqvist tied it to his desk, painting it blue. And Mason Shaw continued the fourth-line streak by scoring the team’s third goal in one minute and 58 seconds.

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

What did he say?

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

“You just knew he was going to do something at some point,” Hartman said.

Six minutes later, all hell broke loose.

Hartman scored a power play goal to give the Wild the lead for good. He tried to skate to the corner for the celebration, but the momentum took Hartman towards a still-extended Binnington. Hartman cut Binnington’s leg pad as he attempted to lift his skate above him.

Binnington immediately got up, charged in 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,” Binnington said. “They’re a tough team to play against. They’re tough around the net and I just felt it got to a certain point…the goals were going so it was frustrating. I just felt, yeah, it was time.

Binnington received a five-minute match penalty. He was ejected. Still, he decided this was the time he was going to step up to center ice and pump up the crowd.

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

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

“Kirill (Kaprizov) is out, I have to step in. It lands on my shoulders,” Reaves joked. “Everybody rallied.”

The Wild, surprisingly, have scored 17 goals in the first three games since Kaprizov was injured (sidelining him 3-4 weeks). It was the eighth time in franchise history that the Wild scored eight goals in a game and the third time on the road.

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

Evason said assistant Brett McLean arrived at the second intermission and said, “Boy, there was a lot to unpack during that time.” The Wild head coach said you never want to see your goalie fight, but he liked the idea of ​​guys sticking together. Binnington’s charge and ensuing melee didn’t bother him.

“Old school hockey,” he said. “Sounded familiar to me.”

Fleury said a few days ago that he wouldn’t mind fighting. He noted that he entered one in junior and broke his knuckle, forcing him to miss a few weeks. “It’s the end of our season, so no time for that,” he said. “This is not the right time to have fun.”

On Wednesday, he had changed his mind. It didn’t take him long to decide to go.

“That one was pretty quick,” Fleury said. “One of the guys said (Binnington) hit them in the backpack. Can I say nuts? Then when I saw him throw another one at our guy, it was time.

Reaves, one of the best fighters in the league, said he gave Fleury advice before the game in case he found himself in a fight. “He said he wanted it,” Reaves said. “These two went back and forth. I would have liked the referees to let him go.

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

(Photo: Joe Puetz/NHLI via Getty Images)

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