Marc-Andre Fleury blanks Avalanche again as Vegas defeats Colorado 3-0

Feb 22, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (29) and Colorado Avalanche left wing Andre Burakovsky (95) watch as the puck is deflected wide of the net in the first period at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

That’s two shutouts in eight days for goalie Marc-Andre Fleury against the Avalanche.

Fleury made 34 saves and forward Alex Tuch scored twice in a span of 3:21 on Monday to help the Vegas Golden Knights shutout the Avs 3-0 at Ball Arena and hand Colorado its first home loss since opening night.

All three of Vegas’ goals came in the second period as the Golden Knights evened the four-game series against the Avs.

Colorado’s home winning streak ended at five games. The Avs are also 6-2-1 in their past nine since starting the season 3-3. Both regulation losses have come against Vegas.

“The big thing is, we were 2-1 in the series out of the four games we really wanted to make it 3-1,” Avs forward Matt Calvert said.

Fleury made 15 saves in the third. But his two highlight-reel saves against Nazem Kadri in the first two periods were perhaps his best.

Kadri took a cross-ice pass from captain Gabe Landeskog and tried to beat Fleury high. But the 36-year-old got a piece of it, sending the puck into the netting late in the first with a two-pad stack. Then early in the second, Fleury once again stopped Kadri.

“They’re just fun,” Fleury said of the two-pad-stack save. “Especially when you stop them.”

Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault scored Vegas’ third goal in an 8:13 span in the second period to make it 3-0. It’s the first time Colorado has trailed by three goals since a 4-1 loss to St. Louis on opening night.

It’s also the first time Avs goalie Philipp Grubauer has surrendered three goals since Jan. 26 (seven games).

“I give them credit. They came out and played hard. They challenged us on the defensive side of it,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of the Knights.

Tuch’s first goal came on a power play with Colorado defenseman Conor Timmins in the penalty box. The Avalanche had gained momentum after killing a late first-period penalty and carried that into the middle period. But Tuch wasted little time capitalizing on his team’s second opportunity, splitting two defensemen and beating Grubauer on the breakaway just 21 seconds into the man-advantage.

Three minutes later, the Golden Knights won a defensive zone draw and Tuch came zooming into the Colorado zone past defenseman Cale Makar and fired a shot at Grubauer. The rebound bounced off defenseman Bo Byram’s skate and past his netminder to make it 2-0.

“I would guess that’s the most chances they’ve created against us in the four games that we’ve played,” Bednar added. “I did not love us defensively. I think they won the bulk of the battles which led to their chances. On the other side of it, we looked sluggish that we didn’t have our jump, our legs, and we lacked energy for the better part of the game.”

Colorado has struggled on the power play. The Avs are 0-for-16 with the man-advantage over the past six games, which includes going scoreless on nine tries in the four games against Vegas.

“We’re still getting pucks to the net and creating chances for ourselves but they’re just not going in,” Makar said. “I feel like it’s just grinding it out and making sure we bury those chances right in front of the net. And then especially making sure shots get through.”

Injury update: The Avalanche iced the same lineup that faced off against the Golden Knights at Lake Tahoe. That game, Colorado welcomed back defensemen Sam Girard and Makar, and forwards Tyson Jost, Calvert and Landeskog.

The only players that remain on the injury list are veteran defenseman Erik Johnson and backup goalie Pavel Francouz.

Depth defenseman Dennis Gilbert, who has spent most of the season on the taxi squad, is out 4-to-6 weeks after suffering an injury in a fight against Vegas’ Keagan Kolesar last week.