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Ryan Hartman's shot disappeared into Marc-Andre Fleury's glove, a windmill-esque snatch as Fleury sank into the splits.

Later, Hartman whacked at a bouncing puck that Fleury caught like a pop fly. Then the goaltender deflected a Hartman windup over the net with — what else? — his mitt.

"He's got a great glove," Hartman said. "He takes a lot away."

Fleury, then playing for Vegas, was credited with five saves against the Wild forward in Game 1 of the playoffs last year, and he blocked another five attempts from Mats Zuccarello. And three by Kirill Kaprizov. And three more off the stick of Nick Bjugstad.

Not until Joel Eriksson Ek's fourth try did the Wild finally push a puck behind Fleury to clinch a 1-0 overtime victory; but Fleury's almost airtight effort was a preview of what was to come.

After leading the Golden Knights to a first-round, seven-game victory with right-place, right-time reactions and acrobatic athleticism, Fleury is now facing the opposite objective because of a deadline-day trade: to extend the Wild's season instead of end it, a role reversal set to begin Saturday when Fleury is scheduled to make his debut against Columbus at Xcel Energy Center.

"He just makes clutch saves and momentum saves that could be changing the game, but he swings it back the other way because of his ridiculous saves," Marcus Foligno said. "He beat us in that first round, and it's definitely great to have him as a teammate now."

New circumstances

Before that series, Fleury didn't dominate the Wild.

His seven career wins against the team are the fewest among all his NHL opponents except Fleury's former clubs (Pittsburgh and Vegas) and expansion Seattle. Plus, the .888 save percentage he carries vs. the Wild is his worst; the 3.28 goals-against average is the second highest.

But those are results from regular-season action.

In their first playoff meeting, Fleury displayed the dexterity that helped him capture three Stanley Cups with the Penguins.

"He's like a defenseman out there," said Kevin Fiala, who had a team-high 22 shots in the first round against the Golden Knights. "I had so many chances last playoffs against him. I just scored one goal."

Not only did Fleury intercept 93.1% of the shots he encountered, but his goals-against average was a sterling 1.71.

He also saved almost three goals above expected, according to Evolving Wild, and limited the Wild to two or fewer goals five times, including a 35-save shutout despite the Wild having the edge in shots that were high-danger scoring chances during the round.

"There were some games that they stole," Foligno said.

Textbook but flashy

Fleury made the routine stops, the long-range looks that hit him.

What he also delivered, though, were the desperation plays in which he made unorthodox stretches to get in the way of the puck.

"The pressure is higher, the energy, the intensity every night," said Fleury, who went to Chicago in an offseason trade from Vegas before the Wild acquired him for a second-round draft pick that could become a first-rounder depending on the outcome of the playoffs. "The fans are into it. I just feel like the game is more intense and more fun."

One of the best sequences of the NHL postseason last year came in that Game 1 when Fleury, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the league's top goaltender, reached behind him and impeded a Kaprizov shot from usually can't-miss territory by clipping it with his blocker.

"He's obviously [a] world class, Hall of Fame, Stanley Cup goaltender," Wild coach Dean Evason said.

While the Wild persevered enough to erase a 3-1 deficit in the series, the mismatch between the team's offense and Fleury was a factor in its eventual demise. In a 6-2 loss by the Wild in Game 7, Fleury was tested with only 20 shots.

"It can get in your head, especially when it happens a few games in a row especially in the playoffs when a goalie just keeps saving and keeps saving all your shots," Fiala said. "It gets frustrating, for sure."

Getting ready

Even with his experience and successful track record, the 37-year-old Fleury doesn't turn into a playoff performer overnight.

The preparation is a process.

"You keep building your game and where you want to be because it's not that easy to just flip a switch and be good all of a sudden," said Fleury, who has more postseason victories (90) than the Wild has playoff games (84). "It's a full-season workload and all together. Obviously, the last little stretch is important."

Fleury is on the verge of that final dress rehearsal and incorporating him into the team's tune-up completes the Wild's transformation, changes designed to catapult the team beyond past problems.

"This is us," Fiala said. "Nothing is going to happen anymore. It's us that has to do the job now. It's a good thing. We're confident."

Whatever happens, the Wild has already guaranteed it won't stumble against one of the obstacles that felled the team a year ago.

That adversary has become an ally.

"Everybody knows that we're going to try to make a run here, and it's exciting," Fleury said. "Everybody's excited. It's a well-balanced team, and it will be fun to watch."