Golden Knights’ Robin Lehner shelled in surprise start

Last year, Robin Lehner got 16 of 20 playoff starts for the Vegas Golden Knights.

This year, Marc-Andre Fleury got all the playoff starts — until Sunday.

Lehner was the surprise starter in Game 1 against the Colorado Avalanche — his first appearance since May 10 — and was shelled 7-1. Not that Fleury might have been able to slow down the onslaught by the rested Avalanche, who got five goals from their top line, but he did shut out Colorado twice this season.

But rest for Fleury was the reason behind the move.

“(Fleury) had just played seven games in 14 days and an emotional Game 7,” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said. “It was a perfect opportunity, in our minds, to use our other starter. That’s been a strength of ours all year.”

Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner looks on after giving up a goal to the Avalanche during the first period of Game 1.

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Fleury flourished this season while Lehner was out with a concussion, but after his return, the two alternated starts. Together, they won the Williams Jennings Trophy for lowest team goals-against average.

Fleury excelled in the playoffs, and his 1.71 goals-against average and .931 save percentage topped his regular-season numbers (1.98, .928). Lehner, who also won the Jennings Trophy with the New York Islanders in 2018-19, went 2.29, .913 in the regular season.

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