Avalanche lose 2-1 to Fleury and the Golden Knights

Dec 27, 2018; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19) skates with the puck in front of Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) and Avalanche defenseman Ian Cole (28) during the first period at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights continue to be a thorn in Colorado’s side after beating the Avalanche 2-1 on Thursday night in Las Vegas in what turned out to be a high-intensity goaltending showdown.

Philipp Grubauer made his fourth consecutive start and held the Avalanche in the game throughout, while Marc-Andre Fleury, who appears to be back in top form, proved to be too difficult to beat on the few chances the Avs were able to generate.

The Avalanche did get one past Fleury early on when they capitalized on their first power-play opportunity of the game, scoring just five seconds into Ryan Reaves’ penalty for interference. The goal was facilitated by Mikko Rantanen, who had the puck at the blue line after the Avalanche faceoff win. Rantanen hit J.T. Compher on the tape for the redirect goal as Compher stood just wide of the net to the right of Marc-Andre Fleury, and the Avs had their first-ever regulation lead against Vegas.

Just under two minutes later, former Av Paul Stastny made it a 1-1 game. In only his tenth game of the season, Stastny put home his own rebound after seemingly having all day to stand in front of Philipp Grubauer and score his third goal of the year.

There were no goals scored in the second period, but there was no lack of entertainment as both goaltenders had brought their A-game throughout the contest. Grubauer, in particular, had a monstrous second period, saving all 15 of Vegas’ shots as they had much of the control throughout the second frame.

The shot count grew heavily in Vegas’ favor as the game progressed and Grubauer stayed busy, ending the night with 41 saves while Marc-Andre Fleury had 31.

The Golden Knights finally found a way to get one past Grubauer and add another tally on the scoreboard when Brandon Pirri threw the puck on net from the blue line. It found its way through some traffic and bounced off of the far post and in. Pirri’s goal, which was assisted by Paul Stastny, came 10:11 into the third and would be the final goal of the night.

The Avs did have a few solid chances to tie it at two late in the game, when they spent four of the final six minutes on the power play. Fleury remained unbeatable and the helped his team seal the victory and the two points for the standings.

Colorado will return home for the first night of a four-game homestand when they face the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night in a redemption game for the Avalanche after losing to Chicago last week.

The Avalanche have now lost four of their last six games and have been held to one goal in three of those losses. Colorado currently sits with a 19-13-6 record, good for 44 points on the season.

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