If Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz didn't appear nervous in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, it is because he wasn't.
"Honestly I wasn't much nervous today, and that kind of scared me because usually I am pretty nervous," Francouz said postgame. "So, I was a little bit afraid of that, but it didn't affect my performance, I guess. I don't even know why, but I felt pretty comfortable today."
He showed no signs of anxiety as he stopped all 27 shots he faced to become the first goaltender in Colorado/Quebec Nordiques history to record a shutout in his postseason debut.
Francouz is just the 15th goaltender in NHL history, and the second this postseason, to record a clean slate in his first taste of Stanley Cup playoff action. He faced 13 shots in the first period, but the skaters in front of him only allowed Dallas to get eight shots on net in the middle frame and six in the third stanza.
"I mean I felt pretty good, especially when I saw how we started the game," said Francouz. "I felt like we were dominating, and we had some good chances and then we just kept scoring and scoring and I felt better and better every time. The guys helped me a lot today, they blocked a lot of shoots on the penalty kill so that one was really huge, and it was a pleasure to play behind this team."
Video: COL@DAL, RR: Francouz makes history with shutout
The last meaningful game that Francouz appeared in was on March 11 when he made 30 saves in Colorado's 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers. He also played half of the Avalanche's exhibition game versus the Minnesota Wild last Wednesday and he denied all 14 shots that he saw in that outing.
"I was just waiting for the first save in the game, and it was a real game after a while for me," Francouz said. "I was focused more than ever and I felt better and better with every save I made and, as I mentioned, the team helped me a lot today and it was fun to watch our team playing in their zone a lot, so I enjoyed the full 60 minutes today."
The Plzen, Czech Republic, native is now the third goaltender in franchise history to earn a win in his playoff debut, joining Mario Gosselin (Game 1 of the 1985 division semifinals) and Craig Anderson (Game 3 of the 2010 conference quarterfinals). His is also now the sixth netminder in the Avs/Nordiques annals to record a shutout in the postseason (Patrick Roy, David Aaebischer, Anderson, Dan Bouchard and Philipp Grubauer).
Video: Vladislav Namestnikov, Pavel Francouz & Cale Makar
It isn't the first time that Francouz has put his name in the franchise record book this year, however. He made his first NHL start on Oct. 12 and stopped 34 shots to pick up the win, becoming the second goaltender in Avs/Nordiques history to record his first victory at age 29 or older and first Colorado netminder to win his first NHL start since Vitaly Kolesnik on Dec. 7, 2005 versus Boston.
At the end of the regular season, Francouz was tied for fifth in the NHL in save percentage (.923) and ranked seventh in goals-against average (2.41), the first Avalanche netminder to finish among the league's top 10 in both categories since Aebischer in 2003-04. The Avalanche used five goaltenders this year, and they combined to rank sixth in the league in team goals-against average (2.69), finishing among the NHL's top 10 in this category for the first time since 2002-03.
"We have two guys that are very capable that our team feels confident in front of," said head coach Jared Bednar, referring to Grubauer, who started the first round-roobin contest on Sunday versus the St. Louis Blues. "You look at the numbers and the games that these guys have played and their stats, they are similar because that is a credit to Frankie and the work he put in and how quickly he was able to adjust and become an impact goalie for our team."
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Colorado and Dallas, along with the St. Louis Blues and Vegas Golden Knights, are playing each other in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to determine the top four seeds in the Western Conference playoffs.
After also picking up a 2-1 victory against the Blues on Sunday, the Avalanche improved to 2-0-0 in tournament play and can secure the top seed in the West when it faces the Golden Knights on Saturday.
Earning the top spot in the conference has been one of Colorado's goals all season.
"Our team coming out of last year's playoffs, we felt like it would have been a big difference for us," Bednar said on his team's mindset of obtaining the top seed. "We played real well at home and loved playing at home at the Pepsi Center in front of our fans, and we were coming out of the San Jose series and we felt like it would have been nice to be able to have played that Game 7 on our ice. We didn't earn the right last year and we are certainly trying to give ourselves every advantage we possibly can going into the playoffs, and home ice is one of them even though we are playing here in Edmonton all of our games.
"There are advantages to having the home ice, and we want to make sure that if we want to use those advantages that we can. Our team has been focused in on that, I think it is good to have short-term goals as well as long-term goals. We got one game left and it is still within our grasp if we play the way we can. I'd like to see our team get rewarded for all our hard work during the regular season and get the top seed, and then we reset and we are starting over for a seven-game series."
Video: Interview with Jared Bednar after the win vs. Dallas
Cale Makar tallied the first goal of the game, his second career playoff marker, which is also his second postseason game-winner.
Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi and Vladislav Namestnikov each scored their first postseason goal as a member of the Avalanche.
Burakovsky matched his postseason career best with two points (one goal, one assist), his sixth multi-point outing in the playoffs (last: May 30, 2018 at Vegas).
Erik Johnson finished with a plus-2 rating, matching his career-best plus-minus rating in the postseason (also: April 15, 2019 vs. Calgary).
Samuel Girard had two assists to record his first career multi-point postseason game.