Loyal Fleury wants to remain with Wild: 'This is our team, my team.'

The intensity, how every play is heightened, is what Marc-Andre Fleury loves about playoff hockey — besides the chance to capture a Stanley Cup, of course.

"When you win, the win feels so good because you always play good teams," the goaltender said. "You're playing the best. So, when you beat another team and you shake their hands, it's a good feeling."

Fleury would know.

Not only is he a three-time champ, but even his seasons that ended in defeat usually wrapped with a handshake line.

The last time Fleury didn't compete in the playoffs, the iPhone didn't exist. Neither did Uber. MySpace was more popular than Facebook.

Since 2007, Fleury has advanced every season, the longest streak in NHL history for a goalie.

"I take pride in it," he said Tuesday in an interview with the Star Tribune. "I think playoffs is a lot of fun. Obviously, you want to win the Cup, and you have to make the playoffs to do it. I take pride in the grind, the grind of the season, trying to be consistent, trying to win games."

Death, taxes and Fleury making the playoffs. Certainties — until now?

Although the Wild are in the thick of the Western Conference race, they aren't a lock for the playoffs.

Because Fleury can't see himself asking to be traded elsewhere, he could miss out on another opportunity at a title before an uncertain future.

But if that happens, he'll be OK with the outcome: He won't regret his decision to stick around.

"I've been very fortunate," Fleury said. "I've won, so that's a great thing. Obviously, you always want to win another one, right, because it's so good. It's the best. You always want to chase it, but I feel like we're so close.

"I'd rather go out swinging."

Clarity dawned on Fleury after the last few weeks.

Five teams and six points stood between the Wild and the playoff pace at the All-Star break, but they went 7-1-1 in their return to vault back into wild-card contention.

Fleury knew if the Wild had spiraled down the standings, Bill Guerin, president of hockey operations and general manager, would have helped him explore another option, and Fleury's pedigree, combined with his experience, undoubtedly makes him intriguing to other teams before the March 8 trade deadline. (Fleury's contract includes a no-movement clause, so he has control over his situation.)

But with the Wild still a playoff candidate, Fleury would rather stay put.

His teammates are his friends; over the All-Star break, he and several Wild players vacationed together in Turks and Caicos.

"This is our team, my team," he said. "I love the boys here. I take pride in trying to win, battle with these guys every night. We've gone through some tough times, but trying to make it out of it, try and make playoffs, I love the challenge it brings.

"I wouldn't want to go anywhere else."

Playoff push

Not since his Pittsburgh tenure — after his first Stanley Cup in 2009 but before winning back-to-back in 2016 and 2017 — has Fleury been on a team that had to fight to extend its season.

With Vegas, he and the Golden Knights were shoo-ins.

The last time Fleury was in jeopardy of not making the playoffs was two years ago when he was with Chicago before the rebuilding Blackhawks sent him to the Wild at the trade deadline.

"Teams that go through tough times in a season and figure it out and make the playoffs, I think they'll be dangerous," Fleury said, "because they gotta play hard games all the way through the end of the season. Then you're used to those higher-pressure games and high tempo and you play the right way."

The Wild have been in make-or-break territory for months.

They stumbled at the start, their early-season swoon culminating in coach Dean Evason getting fired and John Hynes replacing him. Even as they improved, the Wild were still pestered by injury and inconsistency.

Recently, though, they've honed a successful style: Their offense, led by their best players, is rolling. Special teams help them more than hurt them. And in net, they're getting timely stops from Filip Gustavsson and Fleury, who likes the Wild's chances to nab a playoff spot.

"That's what we've been expecting all season," he said. "I feel like it doesn't come as a surprise, but it definitely feels good."

Fleury has helped this resurgence.

He's 5-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average and .921 save percentage over his last eight appearances.

"Just more relaxed," said Fleury, who's 12-10-3 overall with a 2.92 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. "It feels good to contribute and win games."

At 39 years old and in the final stretch of a two-year, $7 million contract, this season was always going to be different for Fleury.

He was on the brink of two rare milestones, playing 1,000 games and passing Patrick Roy for the second-most victories all-time, and Fleury achieved both feats. The Wild honored the future Hall-of-Famer in an emotional pregame ceremony Feb. 9 before he backstopped the team past the Penguins.

"I want this to be remembered as a season that we had some struggles and we had ups and downs, but we prevailed, showed character and worked all the way to the end," said Fleury, who's up to 556 victories through 1,013 games. "But obviously, I'm very fortunate, very lucky for all the good things that happened to me this season, too. I'll keep the memories, for sure."

Fleury is waiting until after the season to decide whether he'll keep playing or retire.

In the meantime, he's still a top attraction among fans.

Earlier this month in Arizona, the crowd behind the net cheered his mere arrival for the second period.

"I feel very fortunate I got to do this for so long," Fleury said. "I'm playing a game, you know? That's why when you see those kids in the stands with signs you want to make them believe that I wish for them to do what I do or if it's not hockey, something they love, something they can smile about and enjoy."

The Wild didn't draft Fleury first overall in 2003 and celebrate three Stanley Cups with him as Pittsburgh did.

Fleury also didn't usher the Wild into existence like he did Vegas before winning a Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie.

But his time with the Wild has already been unique.

And that legacy is still under construction.

"Maybe it'll change if we go all the way," Fleury said.

Only one way to find out.