LAS VEGAS (AP) — Night after night, the Vegas Golden Knights keep proving it’s no fluke they’re the top team in the West.
Just ask last year’s conference champions.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots in his second shutout of the season, leading Vegas past the Nashville Predators 3-0 on Tuesday for its eighth straight victory.
“It’s always a work in progress. It’s never perfect,” Fleury said. “When you get a shutout, it doesn’t mean it was a perfect game on my end. I know there’s still stuff to be worked on, but it’s definitely nice to be rewarded with a shutout.”
Reilly Smith, Shea Theodore and Jonathan Marchessault scored for the surprising Western Conference leaders. Fleury improved to 8-1-1 with his 46th career shutout.
“Our goaltending has been unbelievable all season long,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “Fleury keeps going in there and playing really well. Tonight, they probably should’ve had the lead in the first period. In the second, they come out in the first five minutes and have some really good chances. He stood on his head, made some great saves, and gave us a chance to get the lead. He played really well and he’s a big part of that win tonight.”
Vegas has won eight in a row and earned at least one point in 13 consecutive games, both NHL records for a first-year team. The expansion Golden Knights are 17-2-1 at home and 27-9-2 overall.
Pekka Rinne made 28 saves for the Predators, who also lost at home to Vegas 4-3 in a shootout last month.
“That’s a good hockey team over there. Give them credit, they played well,” said Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, who made his season debut after recovering from knee surgery. “A lot of it comes back to us as far as turning pucks over and not getting pucks deep, getting away from our game plan.”
Nashville’s penalty kill ranks first in the league on the road, but Vegas converted its lone opportunity with the man advantage.
Smith caught Rinne giving space between his right leg and the post, skated around a defender and sent a shot off the back of the goalie’s pad and in for a power-play goal at 12:10 of the second period.
Theodore made it 2-0 at 13:41 when he smacked a one-timer from the point that trickled through Rinne’s legs.
Marchessault capped the scoring with an empty-net goal late in the third.
Nashville, which ranks second in the NHL on the power play, was 0 for 2 with the man advantage.
“We’ve been in some games lately that have gone up and down with a ton of shots and a ton of chances,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Second period wasn’t bad with the exception of those four minutes, but inside of those four minutes, we made too many mistakes and it cost us the game. They’re a good team.”
Playing their fourth road game in the last five, the Predators were shut out for just the second time this season. Nashville also was blanked by Pittsburgh 4-0 on Oct. 7.
“We just keep playing our game and have good success,” Gallant said. “It’s about competing and getting ready for the next game. If we keep playing the kind of hockey we’re playing, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games.”
NOTES: The crowd of 18,171 was the third-largest for Vegas. … Vegas forward Erik Haula played in his 400th career game. … Golden Knights goalie Malcolm Subban is the younger brother of Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban. … Vegas is 17-1-0 when scoring first, best in the NHL.
Predators: At the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
Golden Knights: At the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
A previous version of this story corrected Fleury’s save total.
For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey