Pavel Francouz will be the starting goalie for the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 and likely beyond after Philipp Grubauer was injured in a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round on Saturday.
“Time will tell how long [Grubauer] is going to be out, I have no idea at this point, but I’m not expecting him to hit the ice tomorrow or anything like that,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “It’s going to be Frankie’s net here. Hopefully [Grubauer] can get healthy and back in here as soon as possible. In the meantime, Frankie’s going to have to get the job done.”
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the Western hub city, on Monday (9:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).
Grubauer was helped from the ice in the second period, favoring his left leg after a shot attempt by Stars forward Denis Gurianov went wide at 3:06 of the second period. He made seven saves on 10 shots; Colorado was trailing 3-1 at the time of the injury.
“For sure, it’s different if you go in in the middle of the game or if you know you’re going to play,” Francouz said. “But as a backup goalie you have to be ready every day, and that’s why I’m here.”
Francouz allowed two goals facing 20 shots. Colorado got within one goal twice in the second period before Dallas forward Roope Hintz scored the only goal of the third period.
“I don’t think either team played in any different after that,” Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. “Anytime you put a goalie in the middle of a period like that, you want to put as many pucks as you can at the net, but give them credit because they didn’t give us much of an opportunity. There was no real change in play.”
Francouz was 21-7-4 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in 34 games (31 starts) in his first full season with the Avalanche. After Grubauer was injured Feb. 15, Francouz started 12 of Colorado’s final 13 regular-season games and was 8-2-2.
“It was like having another starter when ‘Gruby’ went out, and that’s what we’re going to need for him to be like again,” Bednar said. “He’s an easy guy to like, our guys play hard for him, he’s always been a hard worker and holds himself to a high standard. He’s a real good evaluator of his game and he’ll do anything he can to help us win.
“It was a tough situation to come into a game like that, he had been off for a while, and he has to step in when our team’s not playing well. We hung him out to dry. I expect our team to be better in front of him, and in turn he’ll be better next game for us.”
Francouz played his third game of his first NHL postseason. He made 27 saves in a 4-0 shutout against the Stars in the round-robin of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Aug. 5 and last played Aug. 15 against the Arizona Coyotes in the first round, a 4-2 loss in Game 3.
Grubauer was 5-0-1 with a 1.49 goals-against average and. 937 save percentage this postseason before this game. He was 18-12-4 with a 2.63 GAA and .916 save percentage in 36 games during the regular season.
Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson did not play the third period; Bednar said he “tweaked something as well and thought he could go, tried it, [and] wasn’t able to do that.” As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.
“It happens, and just a matter of how we respond as a group, you know?” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “It’s not more than that. It [stinks] seeing guys go down, and everybody that’s in that lineup is there for a reason. There’s a hole to fill and there’s a next-man-up mentality. We’ve dealt with it in the past and hopefully those guys can get back as soon as possible and get healthy. But we know we’re a good enough team to win with a couple of guys out of the lineup, no doubt.”
Michael Hutchinson, the third goalie with the Avalanche in Edmonton, backed up Francouz after Grubauer left the game. Teams were permitted to bring no more than 31 players, with no more than 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies, to its hub city.
Hutchinson, who was traded to the Avalanche by the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Calle Rosen on Feb. 24, was 4-9-1 with a 3.66 GAA and .886 save percentage in 15 games (11 starts) with Toronto this season. He saved 17 of 18 shots in his only start for the Avalanche, a 2-1 win at the Detroit Red Wings on March 2.
Grubauer sustained a lower-body injury in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series. He did not play again before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.