The Avalanche clung to a one-goal lead to propel them to a 1-0 victory over the Ducks, won through strong defensive play and outstanding goaltending. Pavel Francouz stopped all 26 shots he faced, recording his first NHL shutout. Recent call-up Martin Kaut also recorded his first NHL point as the primary assist to the sole goal of the game.
The first period of the game wasn’t the most interesting 20 minutes of hockey, with play bouncing between the ends of the ice with nothing much to show from it. Both teams recorded 10 shots on goal in the first, with both teams killing off one penalty each.
The second period swung in favor of the Avalanche, as they dominated the shot metrics. Anaheim goalie John Gibson had an outstanding performance despite the onslaught, but the Avalanche managed to beat him for the sole goal of the game off of an excellent play by Kaut and J.T. Compher. The play started with a strong forecheck by Gabriel Landeskog. Kaut then perfectly intercepted a pass before snapping the puck over to Compher who buried it top-shelf to beat Gibson.
We’ve written about Kaut previously, but his confidence with the puck in this game was nothing short of impressive. The fake before the pass allowed Compher to hit the back of the net before Gibson could get back into position and it’s the kind of play you expect to see from the roster regulars, not the guy playing in his second career NHL game.
Martin Kaut ⏩ J.T. Compher!
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) February 22, 2020
Francouz’s first career shutout came on the same day he signed a contract extension, worth $2 million for each of the next two seasons. He currently sits at a 2.33 GAA and a .926 SV% in 25 games played this season
Pavel Francouz’s deal is two years with a $2 million AAV, a source has told The Athletic.
— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) February 21, 2020
I was fully prepared for a scenario in which Francouz left the Avalanche after this season, as he was set to be an unrestricted free agent. It would be reasonable for him to try for a starter job, as his performance this season has been exceptional. However, it’s nice to have him locked down for the next two years, especially given the way he’s stepped up following injuries this season.
It’s inspiring to see the Avalanche manage to pull off a 1-0 win. They’ve had issues with maintaining close leads, but the defensive effort was present tonight.
With the second half of the back to back coming up against the Kings, the question of goaltending is still up in the air. The Avalanche recently signed Hunter Miska to an NHL contract and he is currently serving as the backup goalie with Philipp Grubauer out with injury. In the race to the top of the Central, this next stretch of games is going to be crucial – Miska has a 2.62 GAA and a .919 SV% with the Colorado Eagles this season, but he has only one NHL game under his belt so far.
Regardless of who is in net, the Avalanche need to come out with more energy than they did the last time these two teams met. They jumped the Dallas Stars to take second in the Central and trail the Blues by three points with two games in-hand. If the depth of the team can continue to step up with the recent injuries, they still stand a chance to go into the post-season at the top of the West.