Sometimes it can take goaltenders a few games to get their timing back after a long layoff, but it didn't take Philipp Grubauer that long to get back in sync on Friday.
Despite last playing two and a half weeks ago on April 12, Grubauer stopped all 21 shots he faced to pick up his sixth shutout of the year in the Colorado Avalanche's 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks at Ball Arena.
"Felt like it's been a long time since I played again," Grubauer said postgame. "Obviously first period I felt a little rusty, practices are limited too. It was a tough one in the first for me, got better in the second, and the third I felt back to 100 percent and normal."
Not only had he not seen any game action for 18 days, but he also wasn't able to be on the ice for two weeks while in the league's COVID protocol.
Video: Avs goalie Philipp Grubauer after shutout of Sharks
While quarantining, Grubauer was limited in what he was able to do, but he used a simulator while away from the rink to help his hand-eye coordination stay sharp. He was removed from the league's COVID list last week and was able to get back on the ice with his teammates on Tuesday.
The netminder seemingly picked up where he left off and is now 14-1-1 in his last 16 appearances dating back to March 10. On the season, Grubauer has the second-most wins in the NHL with 26 and his six shutouts are tied for the most in the league.
"Obviously time at home and watching the boys play on the road sucks, but there is nothing you can do," said Grubauer. "You got to stay safe, and obviously that is the protocol. Once you are back, I was happy to be joining the boys on the road and getting back on the ice and getting work in to find my way back."
Video: SJS@COL: Grubauer gets his 6th shutout of the season
The shutout was the 17th in his career and his fifth against the Sharks. He has played against San Jose 11 times in the regular season and has a 7-2-1 record versus the club from Northern California with a .933 save percentage and 1.72 goals-against average.
His six shutouts this year are the most by an Avalanche goaltender since Craig Anderson had seven in 2009-10 and are the fourth-most in a single season in franchise history.
"It's Grubi. Grubi is always unbelievable for us regardless of the break," Cale Makar said. "He was working hard to get back in physical shape, if he was even out of it. He is our backbone of our team, and he played incredible for us tonight."
Of Grubauer's 21 saves, six had to be made on the penalty kill, including four on the man disadvantage in the final period of play.
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after shutout of Sharks
"The penalty kill was outstanding as well," head coach Jared Bednar said. "We gave up a couple chances in the third period when we got those penalties, and when we gave up a chance, Grubi was strong. Especially on the low-jam play and rebound right at the top of the crease, he was great. He was square and he gobbled it up and didn't give them any secondary opportunities."
The win was his 62nd with Colorado, tying Clint Malarchuk for eighth place on the franchise wins list.
A MILLENNIUM WIN
The win was the Avalanche's 1,000th regular-season victory since moving to Denver in 1995. Colorado now owns a 1000-727-101-142 record since arriving in the Mile High City from Quebec.
Only five other franchises have over 1,000 wins during that time span: Detroit Red Wings (1059), Dallas Stars (1023), Pittsburgh Penguins (1022), Washington Capitals (1011) and St. Louis Blues (1004).
The team won its first-ever game on Oct. 6, 1995 against the Detroit Red Wings at McNicholas Arena. Colorado's 100th win came almost exactly two years later against San Jose, a 3-2 victory versus the Sharks in Denver on Oct. 9, 1997.
TRIO OF MULTI-POINT EFFORTS
Also returning to the lineup after being in COVID protocol, Mikko Rantanen notched three points (one goal, two assists), his fourth game of the season with three or more points. Rantanen is tied for third in the NHL with 27 goals, while his plus-25 rating is tied for fifth in the league and tied for second among forwards.
Video: SJS@COL: Makar's shot finds twine for PPG in the 1st
Cale Makar finished with two points (one goal, one assist) and a career-high 28:57 of ice time. He has collected 37 points (six goals, 31 assists) this season, the most among Avs defensemen and ranked eighth among NHL blueliners. He has produced an average of 1.03 points per game, the only NHL defenseman to average a point per game in 2020-21.
Gabriel Landeskog also had a goal and an assist in the outing, his 12th multi-point performance this season. His marker came on the power play, his team-leading ninth goal on the man advantage in 2020-21. His nine power-play goals are one shy of his career best, which was set in 2018-19.
TWO D LEAVE EARLY
Ryan Graves left the game early in the contest with an upper-body injury while Samuel Girard did not return after crashing into the boards midway through the third period.
"You don't want to see those guys go down, we obviously need them, they are very key players for us," said Cale Makar. "Obviously G eats an incredible amount of minutes, and Gravy is just a super steady guy for us. [Devon Toews] and I joked about it on the bench, it was basically back to pee-wee days when we were rolling four D. Short shifts is kind of the key thing, and we just wanted to make sure that we weren't getting too tired and keep the tempo high, but at the same time do our job out on the ice and make sure that we can still move pucks out of our end and get it up to the forwards."
Head coach Jared Bednar did not have an update on either player postgame and their status for Saturday's contest is unknown.
MORE POSTGAME NOTES
The Avs are 13-0-1 in their last 14 contests at Ball Arena and extended their home winning streak to six games, their second-longest home win streak of the season. Colorado won seven straight home contests from March 10-25.
Overall, the Avalanche is 19-4-2 on home ice, tied for the second-most wins and third-most points at home this season in the NHL. The Avs' current 14-game home point streak is tied for the third longest in franchise history.
Colorado finished 2-for-4 on the power play, the ninth time this season it has notched multiple power-play goals in a game. The Avs have scored with the man advantage in seven of their last eight outings, going 9-for-33 (27.3 percent) in that span.
The Avalanche's power play is 24-for-91 (26.4 percent) at home this season, the fourth-best home power-play unit in the league. Overall, the Avs rank sixth with the man advantage (44-for-183, 24.0 percent).
Grubauer made his 103rd start with the Avalanche, passing Craig Anderson (102 starts) to take sole possession of 10th place in franchise history and fifth place in Avalanche history in games started.
Gabriel Landeskog scored is team-leading eighth game-winning goal of the season, which is tied for third in the league (with Vegas' Mark Stone) and is one shy of his career best set during the 2018-19 campaign. Landeskog has 38 career game-winning tallies, moving into a tie with Peter Forsberg for sixth place in franchise history.
Nathan MacKinnon's run of 263 consecutive regular-season games with a shot came to an end. MacKinnon's streak was a franchise record and was the longest active streak in the NHL.