RALEIGH, N.C. — One week after returning from an international trip in which Jared Bednar bucked his early-season trend of alternating goalies whenever the Avalanche played back-to-back days, there was no reason to stray from Alexandar Georgiev. The new starting goalie was functioning beyond preseason expectation during a three-game win streak.
But Bednar chose to put backup Pavel Francouz back in net for a night, ending a 14-day stretch without competing for the Colorado fan favorite. They chanted “Frankie” as he beat the Hurricanes for his first win of the season. Bednar admired his performance enough to reward him another start in the rematch. What did the coach like best?
“He won,” Bednar said before the game. “That’s what I liked about him the best.”
Francouz surpassed that with a 46-save outing in a 3-2 overtime win Thursday night. This time he wasn’t afforded the backdrop of adoring home fans, instead facing an engaged Carolina fanbase with ambitions set on a first Stanley Cup since 2006. The Avalanche (9-5-1) swept the season series against the Hurricanes.
Colorado was outshot 48-14.
Artturi Lehkonen scored the game-winning goal after Carolina tied it with 9:37 remaining in the third period on a goal where Francouz wasn’t at fault. Third-pairing defenseman Andreas Englund, in his second game with the Avalanche, accidentally collided with Francouz against the end boards, forcing the goalie to return to his net without his stick. Within 10 seconds, Martin Necas scored.
Alex Newhook gave Colorado a 2-1 second-period lead with a sharp stick-handling move and smooth finish. He celebrated with an emphatic slap of the glass. Two days ago, he met individually with Bednar to address his poor start to the season.
Francouz made it clear immediately that he was zoned in. The Hurricanes worked the puck in front of his goal on their second power play, and a pass across the crease left Sebastian Aho with an open one-timer from point blank range. But Francouz swept across the goal line, made his best save of the season with his left blocker then covered the puck to prevent a rebound.
He made a quick-reflex snag with his right glove moments later against a wrister directed toward the top corner. The first period ended with Carolina outshooting Colorado 12-5. The second ended at 28-11.