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Francouz Helps Avs Extend Streaks in Boston

The goaltender made 16 saves to help the Avs earn their sixth straight victory

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

BOSTON--In a game where the Colorado Avalanche was facing two of the top-five scorers so far this season, goaltender Pavel Francouz denied every shot he faced to help his team earn the win and extend its win streak to a season-long six outings.

Francouz stopped 16 shots to win his fifth consecutive decision in the Avs' 4-1 victory against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Saturday. The Plzen, Czech Republic, native has gone 5-0-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .935 save percentage over his past six appearances.

Colorado handed the Bruins their first regulation home loss of the season and extended its point streak in Boston to 14 wins, posting 12 wins, one tie and one overtime loss since the 1998-99 season.

"We have great players on the team, great defensemen, and I felt like we will not give them any chance today," said Francouz. "I just had a feeling. I was totally confident about them and they played an unreal game."

The Avalanche goaltender wasn't expecting to play in the matchup though as Philipp Grubauer, the other half of the Colorado goalie tandem, started in net. Grubauer left the outing at 17:25 of the first period with an injury. He was able to finish the contest on the bench as the backup netminder, although head coach Jared Bednar did not have an update on him postgame.

"I mean you don't really have time to think," Francouz said of entering the game. "You just grab your stuff and all of a sudden you are standing on the ice and you are trying to focus just on the game, on the puck and on the very next moment.

"I mean it is not easy, but I feel like it is easier to go there that early. When you sit there for like one or two hours you are cold, so its way easier to go there. I was still warm enough, and I saw Grubi go down, it's not a great feeling, but that is my job to be ready and as I said the teammates helped me a lot and it was a pleasure to play behind them today."

The Avs played a solid defensive game in front of him, limiting Boston's chances. Colorado held the Bruins to eight shots in the first and second periods combined while blocking 11 attempts. 

Boston pushed harder offensively in the third and generated 12 shots on net in the frame while the Avalanche got in the way of 10 more shots and ended the game with 21 blocks, tied for its third most of the campaign.

"I thought we were skating, forecheck was rolling early. It was a tight-checking game, but it had really good pace to it," said Bednar. "I thought both teams were pretty disciplined and then we ended up making a couple plays. We lost Grubauer shortly into the game, Francouz came in, did a great job. We lost [Cale] Makar for a while at the end of the game and so with a short bench there I thought our D did a nice job. Lots of sacrifice too, especially at the end on the penalty kill on the five versus six and four versus six, guys getting in front of shots and blocking shots, real good commitment there."

The contest in Boston concluded a three-game trip that started with a 3-1 victory at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday and continued with a 3-2 win at the Montreal Canadiens the next night. Grubauer made 38 stops in Toronto, while Francouz equaled that with a 38-save effort in Montreal.

The victory versus the Bruins was also Colorado's fourth straight away from Pepsi Center, the team's longest road win streak of the campaign and the longest since Nov. 11-Dec. 2, 2018 (six games). 

COLORADO'S BIG Z

Avs defenseman Nikita Zadorov skated in a season-high 27:10, his most as a member of the Avalanche and most since Dec. 15, 2014 as a member of the Buffalo Sabres (versus Ottawa, 27:44).

"I thought he was outstanding tonight," Bednar said of Zadorov. "He has been really good now for a handful of games in a row, really taking a lot of pride in his assignment. We have played him against our opponents best here recently and he has been doing a real nice job. Physical, not taking any penalties, he is a hard guy to beat. He can skate, he is a big body and he has been playing real well. As good as I have seen him play." 

In his past four games, Zadorov has 23 hits, four blocked shots, a plus-6 rating and zero penalty minutes. 

MORE AVALANCHE NOTES

The Avalanche reached the 40-point mark in less than 30 games for just the third time since moving to Denver in 1995. The 2000-01 team reached 40 points in their 26th game (19-4-3-0) and the 2013-14 squad reached 40 in their 27th contest (20-7-0). 

Colorado finished the season series against the Bruins with a 2-0-0 record and are 6-0-1 over its last six matchups against Boston.

The Avs are 8-1-2 against the Eastern Conference and 6-1-1 against the Atlantic Division this season.

Ian Cole skated in his 500th career NHL game and scored his first goal of the season. Cole's marker stood as the game winner, the second game-winning goal of his career and his first since March 11, 2017 at Vancouver. 

Andre Burakovsky scored for the 12th time this year, matching his goal totals from each of the previous three seasons. He is five markers shy of reach high career high of 17 that he set during the 2015-16 campaign.

Valeri Nichushkin finished with a goal and now has five points (four goals, one assist) in his last seven games.

Gabriel Landeskog has scored a goal in each of his two games since returning from injury.

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