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Postgame Wrap-Up: Francouz Makes NHL Debut In Arizona

The goaltender stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele /

Pavel Francouz started the day by preparing for an American Hockey League outing with the Colorado Eagles, but the Czech goaltender had to soon ready himself quickly for the next level.

Early on Saturday, the goaltender received word that he was joining the Colorado Avalanche for the first time since he signed with the club as a free agent from Europe in the offseason.

Francouz, along with forward A.J. Greer, traveled through the busy holiday rush at the airport to join the Avs at Gila River Arena in Glendale for a contest against the Arizona Coyotes.

"Overall, it was a pretty crazy day today," Francouz said after the outing. "When I woke up, I didn't know I would be a part of this team and everything went so fast. So, I just didn't have time to think much."

The netminder entered Colorado's game on Saturday in relief and made 19-of-20 saves in 29:15 of ice time as the Avs fought back from a three-goal deficit.

"We were losing 4-1, so it was nothing to lose for me at the time," Francouz said of the experience. "I was just trying to stop every puck, every shot and try to enjoy myself."

Video: COL@ARI: Francouz stops Panik's bid on breakaway

Francouz was able to keep the game within striking distance as Colorado scored three times in the first 11:51 of the third to tie the game at 4-4. However, Arizona netted the go-ahead goal with 3:39 remaining and the Avalanche ultimately fell 6-4 to the Coyotes.

"I thought he was great. I thought he made a really nice first save in the first period on the bench when the puck came flying into the bench and he saved that one," Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog joked. "Then I think in the end of the second when he went in, I thought he was stellar. I thought he made the saves he needed to and the game-winner ends up going through [Ian] Cole's legs and he doesn't even see it. I thought he really made some nice saves and was real calm back there."

Through 21 games with the Eagles this season, Francouz owns a 13-5-2 record, 2.61 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.

The Plzen, Czech Republic, native inked a one-year contract with the Avalanche on May 2 as a free agent and this season has been his first ever competing in North America. 

He played in the top Czech pro league with Litvinov for three seasons before transitioning to the Kontinental Hockey League for another three. Francouz minded the net of the KHL's Traktor Chelyabinsk in Russia, compiling a 32-27-11 overall record, 1.73 goals-against averages and .945 save percentage in 83 career regular-season contests.

"I think as an organization, we saw what he could do in training camp, we saw what he did last year," head coach Jared Bednar said of Francouz. "Then we get in a position when we have two great goaltenders, then we bring him in, and he gets an opportunity and you want to see what he can do in this league. We like what he's done in the American League, and now he has a little glimpse of what he is capable of. I think it was a great showing for him."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after the game in Arizona

TIED IT UP IN THE THIRD: Colorado scored three times in the third period to knot the game at 4-4.

Gabriel Landeskog scored his 24th marker of the season to get the rally started with a man-advantage goal 5:22 into the final frame.

Video: COL@ARI: Landeskog beats Hill from the doorstep 

It was his eighth power-play goal of the campaign, tied for fourth in the league and first on the team, and he is now third in the league in overall goals. The tally was the 16th this year that he has scored in the third period, which is tops in the league and the most in a season by an Avs player (since 1995-96). 

"We talked about it after the second, if we weren't going to believe we could do it then we might as well just stay in here and hop on the flight already after the second," Landeskog said of the effort in the final period. "We believed we could do it, and we get a power play and its one of those things you never know. You get one, you get two, and all of a sudden it's a one-goal game. I felt like we left it all out there in the third. If you ask me I think we deserved more, but that's the way it goes."

MULTI-POINT GAMES: Three members of the Avalanche recorded two points in the outing, matching a few career highs.  

Alexander Kerfoot scored two times for the fourth time in his career and first of the campaign. He now has three points (two goals, one assist) in three games since he returned from an upper-body injury on Wednesday.

Video: COL@ARI: Kerfoot nets second goal on bounce down low

Matt Nieto also tied his career high with two assists in the outing, the fifth time he has had such a performance in his NHL tenure and his first multi-point game of the year.

J.T. Compher registered two helpers in the loss, matching his career best. It is the fifth time in his career that he has netted two points and his second-ever two-assist performance.

AVS HOLIDAY BREAK BEGINS: Colorado has played six times in the last nine days and will now be off for the NHL Holiday Break. The club resumes play when it visits the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday. 

The game in Vegas beings a stretch that has the Avalanche playing five games in nine days, including four in a row at Pepsi Center.

The outing in Arizona also wrapped up the sixth of 11 times this season that Colorado has played in consecutive days. In back-to-back sets this campaign, the Avs are 3-2-1 in the first matchup and 3-2-1 in the second outing.

MORE NOTES: With an assist, Mikko Rantanen registered his 59th point of the season, equaling the highest total by a Colorado player at the Holiday break (Peter Forsberg, 1995-96). Rantanen is the second Avalanche player to lead the League in scoring at the NHL Holiday Break, joining Peter Forsberg in 1997-98 (48 points). He has held at least a share of the NHL scoring lead for each of the last 62 days since the morning of Oct. 23. He's been the outright leader for 56 of those 62 days.

The Avalanche is now 11-7-3 on the road this season, the most away points in the Western Conference and the third-most in the NHL. 

The Avs finished 1-for-4 on the power play and is now 22-for-72 (30.6 percent) with the man advantage on the road this season, tied for third in the league.

Matt Calvert's five shots was a season high.

Gabriel Bourque's six hits matched a season high (also: Oct. 11 at Buffalo) and is also a career high (five times). 

Ian Cole finished with four blocked shots and continues to pace the league with 102 this season.

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