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NHL's Top Goaltenders Match Up in Avs vs. Knights

Colorado's Philipp Grubauer and Vegas' Marc-Andre Fleury finished among the league leaders in goaltending

by Andy Vernier / ColoradoAvalanche.com

The second-round matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights will feature two of the most dominant goaltenders that have been in between the pipes in Round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and throughout the regular season.

Colorado's Philipp Grubauer and Vegas' Marc-Andre Fleury both held the crease for their respective clubs in the first round of the postseason and will look to be the deciding factor in the second-round bout.

Throughout the regular season, Grubauer and Fleury battled for the top spot in all goaltending categories in the league, proving to be two of the finest keepers to protect the paint in 2020-21. The netminders each finished in the top five in wins, goals-against average and shutouts.

Grubauer and Fleury didn't miss a beat in the first round either, with both playing crucial roles in helping their squads earn a Round 2 berth. Here is a look at the two masked men that will be in the crease to start the best-of-seven series.

Colorado: Philipp Grubauer

Grubauer, who entered his third postseason as the starting goaltender for the Avalanche, was the team's rock between the pipes in the first-round series against the St. Louis Blues and helped lead Colorado to its first series sweep since the 2001 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

The Rosenheim, Germany, native gave up just seven goals on 110 shots in Round 1, which included holding St. Louis to just one marker in two of the contests. His seven goals against throughout the first round are the fewest by a netminder who has played in at least three games this postseason, with Grubauer putting together a 32-save performance in Game 2 and following it up with a 31-save effort in Game 3.

Overall, Grubauer posted a 4-0 record, 1.75 goals-against average and .936 save percentage, becoming just the second goaltender in Avalanche history (since 1995-96) to appear in all four matchups in a series sweep, joining Patrick Roy (1996 Stanley Cup Final, 2001 conference quarterfinals). He is one of three keepers to sport a 4-0 mark in the first round and presently owns the fourth-best goals-against average while ranking fifth in save percentage during this postseason.

The seven-year veteran's knack for consistency and coming up with crucial saves at the right times have set him up for success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. To go along with his four consecutive victories over the Blues, Grubauer has won eight of his last nine postseason contests and boasts an all-time 17-6-1 playoff record, .916 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average.  

In the regular season, Grubauer earned the most victories by a goalkeeper when facing the Golden Knights, recording a 4-2-1 mark, .935 save percentage and 1.86 goals-against average.

Vegas: Marc-Andre Fleury

In his 17th NHL season, Marc-Andre Fleury is still producing highlight-reel saves and top notch performances in the postseason. The keeper started in all seven games for the Golden Knights in their Round 1 series versus the Minnesota Wild and has subsequently taken over the crease for the club.

In the first-round set, Fleury registered a 4-3 mark, 1.71 goals-against average and .931 save percentage, which included collecting a 35-save shutout in Game 4. The NHL veteran ranks third in goals-against average and seventh in save percentage this postseason, while stopping 146-of-156 shots (.936) at even strength for the eighth-best save percentage in the league in that scenario. 

When facing the Avs this year, the 36-year-old posted a 4-3-0 mark, 2.14 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and earned two clean sheets against the squad this year. His two shutouts against Colorado were the only times the Avalanche failed to score a goal in a game all season, while his save percentage and goals-against average paced all netminders who faced the Avs more than once in 2020-21. Fleury finished the season with a 26-10-0 record, 1.98 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and six shutouts.

The 36-year-old continues to build on his prolific career, especially when it comes to the postseason where the goaltender is in the upper echelon of the NHL ranks. The Sorel, Quebec, native has appeared in 153 Stanley Cup postseason contests (151 starts), the fourth most all time. In his 151 starts, the netminder has produced an 85-66 mark, 2.54 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. His 84 postseason victories rank sixth in NHL history, three behind a share of fourth place overall, and his 16 shutouts are tied for the third-most.

While Fleury has been relied on in the first round, Vegas used a potent two-goalie tandem throughout the regular season that also featured 29-year-old goaltender Robin Lehner. The two netminders combined for a 39-14-2 record and earned the franchise's first William M. Jennings Trophy, an annual award given to the goalies that allowed the fewest goals against during the regular season (124 in 56 games). Despite dealing with injuries during the campaign, Lehner was still able to compile a 13-4-2 record, 2.29 goals-against average and .913 save percentage in 19 outing during the year. 

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