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Werner Making First Career NHL Start in Edmonton

Goalie won his NHL debut in the Avalanche's previous game at the Jets

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

EDMONTON, Alberta--Adam Werner's mom was only able to watch part of her son's NHL debut.

It was early in the morning back in Sweden when Werner's father notified his wife that their son had entered Thursday's Colorado Avalanche game at the Winnipeg Jets, and thus etching his name into the NHL's annals.

They saw a spectacular performance from Werner as he stopped all 40 shots he faced in a 4-0 win after Pavel Francouz left the contest 31 seconds into the first period. It was the most saves in franchise history by a goalie in his debut, and he became just one of three NHL netminders in the last 40 years (since 1979-80) to stop 40 or more shots in his first career contest.

"Dad was awake and waked up mom too when I got in. They watched the game," said Werner, who also became the first goalie in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history to win his NHL debut in a relief appearance.

"It was crazy. It is a big dream. You have to enjoy the moment and now refocus here and get ready for the next one."

It's safe to say this time around, Werner's mom will be glued to the television from the opening faceoff as the 6-foot-5, 205-pound keeper will make his first career NHL start when the Avalanche takes on the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night at Rogers Place.

"The goalie's got to be the backbone of any team, so it gives us a lot of confidence," said defenseman Cale Makar of Werner. "Just being able to even allow a few bad angle shots on, but he played incredible and hopefully he can continue that."

Video: Avs goalie Adam Werner on playing in the NHL

The Mariestad, Sweden, native's preparation for his second NHL game will be more typical of what a goalie goes through on game day. He was the first netminder off the ice from morning skate and had all day to get mentally ready to guard the pipes against the Oilers and their explosive offense.

"It is a pretty big day for me, special to get your first start and stuff like that," Werner said. "It is a little bit special."

Werner is in his first season of playing pro hockey in North America after playing in the crease in the Swedish Hockey League and second-tier Allsvenskan league for the past three seasons. Werner was called up to the Avs last Thursday from the Colorado Eagles to provide support for Pavel Francouz once Philipp Grubauer went down with a lower-body injury.

When Francouz left in the first minute of Tuesday's outing following a collision with the Jets' Mark Scheifele, Werner was the next man up. He was cool and collected in the crease, and his Avalanche teammates fed off his play.

"You can't help but feel so happy for a guy who comes in--unfortunate circumstances with Frankie going down like that--he stepped up to the plate, and it's a pretty special moment for him," said forward Tyson Jost. "We're really happy. You never like to see when any teammate goes down with an injury, but Werner stepped up and hey, he played a great game. That's going to be one that he'll remember for the rest of his life."

Now he's got to have the skill that is tough for all goalies and skaters: forget about it and move on.

"Try and do the same thing," Werner said. "Play my game and go out there and have fun and just enjoy the moment."


Head coach Jared Bednar said that Francouz is doing better and is in concussion protocol. The team recalled Antoine Bibeau from the American Hockey League's Eagles on Wednesday, and he is the fourth netminder with the team on the trip. Bibeau will backup Werner in Edmonton.

Fellow goalie Philipp Grubauer practiced with the club at morning skate and is progressing from his lower-body ailment. Bednar said Grubauer is day-to-day.

Mikko Rantanen (lower body) and Nikita Zadorov (broken jaw) continue to rehab from their injuries and have been skating back in Denver, according to Bednar. Zadorov will join the Avs on Friday when they travel to Vancouver and could be available to play against the Canucks on Saturday.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was a full-contact participant at morning skate after suffering a concussion on Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Bednar said Bellemare is a game-time decision.

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