Grubauer unfit to play for Avalanche in Game 2 of Western Second Round

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Philipp Grubauer is unfit to play for the Colorado Avalanche and will be replaced by Pavel Francouz in Game 2 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Dallas Stars on Monday (9:45 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).

Grubauer was injured in a 5-3 loss in Game 1 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the Western hub city, on Saturday. He was helped from the ice in the second period, favoring his left leg after a shot attempt by Stars forward Denis Gurianov went wide at 3:06. He made seven saves on 10 shots; Colorado was trailing 3-1 at the time of the injury.

Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson is also unlikely to play in Game 2; he did not play the third period Saturday. Coach Jared Bednar said he “tweaked something as well and thought he could go, tried it, [and] wasn’t able to do that.” Forward Matt Calvert is day to day.

As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

“They’re getting evaluated at some point today, so I may have more information tomorrow, I’m not certain that I will,” Bednar said Sunday. “But Grubauer won’t be available for tomorrow and I’m not expecting Erik Johnson either, but we’ll see how this afternoon goes.”

Francouz allowed two goals on 20 shots. Colorado got within one goal twice in the second period before Dallas forward Roope Hintz scored the only goal of the third period.

“For sure, it’s different if you go in in the middle of the game or if you know you’re going to play,” Francouz said. “But as a backup goalie you have to be ready every day, and that’s why I’m here.”

Francouz played his third game of his first NHL postseason. He made 27 saves in a 4-0 win against the Stars in the round-robin of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers on Aug. 5 and, prior to Saturday, had last played Aug. 15 against the Arizona Coyotes in the first round, a 4-2 loss in Game 3.

In seven postseason games, Grubauer is 5-0-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average, .922 save percentage and one shutout. He was 18-12-4 with a 2.63 GAA, .916 save percentage and two shutouts in 36 games during the regular season.

Grubauer sustained a lower-body injury in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series on Feb. 15. He did not play again before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

Francouz was 21-7-4 with a 2.41 GAA, .923 save percentage and one shutout in 34 games (31 starts) in his first full season with the Avalanche. After Grubauer was injured Feb. 15, Francouz started 12 of Colorado’s final 13 regular-season games and was 8-2-2.

“It was like having another starter when ‘Gruby’ went out, and that’s what we’re going to need for him to be like again,” Bednar said. “He’s an easy guy to like, our guys play hard for him, he’s always been a hard worker and holds himself to a high standard. He’s a real good evaluator of his game and he’ll do anything he can to help us win.

“It was a tough situation to come into a game like that, he had been off for a while, and he has to step in when our team’s not playing well. We hung him out to dry. I expect our team to be better in front of him, and in turn he’ll be better next game for us.”

Michael Hutchinson, the third goalie with the Avalanche in Edmonton, backed up Francouz after Grubauer left the game. Teams were permitted to bring no more than 31 players, with no more than 28 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies, to the hub city.

Hutchinson, who was traded to the Avalanche by the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Calle Rosen on Feb. 24, was 4-9-1 with a 3.66 GAA and .886 save percentage in 15 games (11 starts) with the Maple Leafs this season. He saved 17 of 18 shots in his only start for the Avalanche, a 2-1 win at the Detroit Red Wings on March 2.

“It happens, and just a matter of how we respond as a group, you know?” Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “It’s not more than that. It [stinks] seeing guys go down, and everybody that’s in that lineup is there for a reason. There’s a hole to fill and there’s a next-man-up mentality. We’ve dealt with it in the past, and hopefully those guys can get back as soon as possible and get healthy. But we know we’re a good enough team to win with a couple of guys out of the lineup, no doubt.”

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