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The outcome was just seconds old, and Marc-Andre Fleury was gone.

He made a beeline down the tunnel last Friday and hightailed it away from Vegas' 7-2 waxing of the Wild.

"I was on my way before the end of the game," the goalie said.

That barrage came from his former team, while fans cheered his name, and Fleury wanted to hide.

"I was embarrassed to give up so many goals going back to a place where I love to play, a place where I make such good friends," he said. "And then obviously with the fans, yeah, it was a very frustrating night."

Fortunately for Fleury, he won't have to wrap his season or career with that loss.

He's penciled in to start the Wild's last game Thursday vs. Seattle at Xcel Energy Center and decided to delay retirement by returning to the team on a one-year contract for $2.5 million.

But Fleury made it clear next season, his 21st, will be his last.

"[I] still love to compete, love to battle with the guys out there," he said, "and it's what's ultimately driving me to keep living the dream and go for one more."

Fleury, 39, had planned to wait until the offseason to figure out his future, but he thought about it throughout the season. At one point, he believed he was done. But as the Wild shed their slow start, Fleury was having more fun.

"I was so unsure sometimes what to do I think that was a good indication it wasn't time," he said. "I wasn't ready to just call it quits."

Just before the March trade deadline, Fleury and his agent told President of Hockey Operations/General Manager Bill Guerin that Fleury was 50-50.

A couple of weeks later, Guerin learned Fleury was "100% in."

If he wasn't retiring, the Wild were the only team he'd sign with; Fleury didn't want to move his family before they settle in Las Vegas when his career is over.

Like his current two-year, $7 million contract, Fleury's new deal has a no-movement clause.

"I still love the game, still have a lot of passion for the game," said Fleury, who lives in Edina with his wife, Veronique, and their children Estelle, Scarlett and James. "As painful as that last game in Vegas was, I was mad for a few days, break a couple sticks, but the emotions you get — I hate losing, but still to feel, to feel those things, the tough losses, the wins obviously. We had some nice ones, too.

"The feeling of winning, the feeling of competing with the best in the world, that's something I want to do one more time."

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The future Hall of Famer has been in Minnesota for the past two-plus seasons, arriving from Chicago in a trade deadline deal in 2022 after a stint in Vegas that included a Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie; before that, Fleury was with Pittsburgh, winning three Stanley Cups after being the No. 1 selection in the 2003 draft.

Earlier this season, Fleury became the fourth goaltender to play 1,000 games and passed Patrick Roy for the second-most wins in NHL history.

He's 17-14-5 with a .895 save percentage and 2.98 goals-against average and is up to 561 victories; at 1,024 games, he needs 21 more to move into second place in games played.

"I've always played not for me, not for my stats," Fleury said. "It's about winning, and it's disappointing to miss playoffs. That's the one thing that's top of my mind first about this year is missing it."

This is the first time since 2007 Fleury won't be competing for the Stanley Cup, his 17-season streak coming to an end. But he doesn't regret sticking with the Wild instead of seeking a trade to a contender before the deadline.

"I've been very fortunate to be part of so many playoffs," said Fleury, who received the Tom Kurvers Humanitarian Award and was nominated by the Wild for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy that recognizes leadership qualities on and off the ice. "My goal is always to win the Stanley Cup. It's the best feeling you can get in hockey. But at the deadline I believed in our chance. I liked the way the guys were battling down the stretch here."

How quickly the Wild can get back to the playoffs will depend in part on what happens in their net.

The Wild's .894 save percentage ranks 24th in the NHL, with Fleury and Filip Gustavsson's statistics dipping from last season.

"We didn't give them the chance to be as strong as they were last year because of the way we played in front of them," Guerin pointed out.

Gustavsson, 25, went from having the second-best save percentage (.931) and goals-against average (2.10) in the league to going 20-18-4 with a .899 save percentage and 3.06 goals-against average.

"The game is there," said Gustavsson, who has two seasons left on a three-year, $11.25 million contract. "It's more about a mental mindset that you have to work through and find a way when you lose your head a little bit, to be able to work through that and find a way because when you're at this level, it's mostly about how you approach the game, how you handle your brain during the games mostly."

Then there's prospect Jesper Wallstedt, who's concluding his second season in the minors since leaving Sweden but made his NHL debut in January, suffering a 7-2 rout at Dallas.

"We did not set him up for success. That's on us," Guerin said of Wallstedt's first game. "I'll take the blame on that for putting him in there. The way our team was playing at the time, the team we were playing, where we were playing, nothing was going right at the time."

Wallstedt rebounded, winning both his starts after a late season call-up to the Wild: The 21-year-old shut out Chicago 4-0 on 24 saves April 7 before stopping 27 shots in a 6-2 blowout at San Jose last Saturday.

"It definitely gave me a huge, huge confidence boost," said Wallstedt, the 20th overall pick in 2021. "I feel like it's a much better way going into offseason like this and knowing that I actually can play at this level. I thought I could when I was up last time when we played in Dallas. Apparently, I wasn't.

"This time I think I showed more what I can do and that I can go through struggles and come back stronger from that and that I've improved. And if I can keep doing that and hopefully after this season and back in training camp next year, I'll be even better and improved even more and definitely try to make the team."

Fleury re-signing isn't an indictment on Wallstedt's readiness, so the Wild have options when it comes to filling out their depth chart: They could reinstate the Fleury-Gustavsson tandem or go with a new look by promoting Wallstedt.

Right now, Guerin hasn't made up his mind.

"The worst thing you can do is force somebody in," he said. "I'm not saying we're gonna try to force Wally in more or keep him down in Iowa for another full year. We'll make those decisions as we go."