NHL Playoffs: Avalanche backup Pavel Francouz blanks Oilers for 2-0 series lead

nhl playoffs pavel francouz
Jun 2, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz (39) defends the net in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers of game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Playoffs Western Conference Final has the Colorado Avalanche up 2-0 after backup Pavel Francouz posted a 24 saves shutout.

Francouz, 32, is celebrating his birthday today after a 4-0 blanking in Game 2 over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. He is now 4-0 in these playoffs despite only starting in two games.

Avs’ starter Darcy Kuemper suffered an upper-body injury in Game 1 and was replaced by Francouz at the 7:19 mark of the second period. Colorado was up 6-3 at the time before eventually winning 8-6 with Francouz stopping 18 of the 21 shots he faced.

“I was kind of thinking that I’m going to play, already after the other game,” Francouz said. “What helped me was the way our team played tonight… That made me more calm and I could just focus on my play.”

NHL Playoffs: Avalanche 4 vs Oilers 0

colorado avalanche
Jun 2, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates his goal with right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) and left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) and defenseman Cale Makar (8) in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche got a shot in the arm in this contest from their trade deadline acquisitions. Artturi Lehkonen and Josh Manson each lit the lamp within 15 seconds in the second period. That was followed up by a Mikko Rantanen and the Avs were up 3-0 in 2:04 span.

Nathan MacKinnon capped the scoring with a third period tally and Nazem Kadri finished with 3 assists. Francouz earned his second career playoff shutout in the winning effort while his counterpart Mike Smith made 36 saves for the Oilers.

The series now shifts to Edmonton where the Oilers hope to even this up using the energy from their home crowd.

Game 3 is set for Saturday night at Rogers Place with puck-drop scheduled for 8PM ET.

“They found a way to break through. We didn’t,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “They’ve got good players, they’ve got good [defensemen]. We haven’t had a ton of chances off the rush. We’ve got to find a way to create off the forecheck and off [offensive zone] play. They do a lot of good things, and we’ve got to find a way to figure them out.”

NHL.com