NASHVILLE — Darcy Kuemper wasn’t made available to reporters Sunday because the Avalanche goalie hasn’t been cleared to play in Game 4 on Monday against the Nashville Predators.
Kuemper, however, will undoubtedly play again this postseason after escaping what could have been a serious eye injury in Colorado’s 7-3 victory in Game 3 on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena.
Kuemper, who had the blade of Preds forward Ryan Johansen poke through his mask and into his face late in the first period, has extensive swelling around his right eye but no serious direct damage to it, Avs coach Jared Bednar said before Sunday’s optional practice.
Kuemper was later seen in the hallway outside the dressing and it looked as though his eye was swollen shut. But he was in good spirits and Bednar said if the swelling decreases he could start or at least back up Pavel Francouz on Monday when the Avs attempt to sweep the Western Conference first-round series.
As a precaution, the Avs recalled goalie Justus Annunen from the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. They’re also carrying practice goalie Hunter Miska.
“Unfortunate incident,” Bednar said of Johansen’s errant stick. “I’ve never seen it before; when you see a player going out holding their eye you’re always worried about it regardless of what team they’re on. So luckily he’s doing good and he doesn’t have any complications except for the swelling.”
“That’s scary stuff,” Avalanche captain Gabe Landeskog told The Post outside the locker room. “You know, shoulders are one thing, a knee is another thing, but your eyes, that’s a scary thing. We’re lucky. It could have been a lot worse. We’re fortunate we got some good news out of it.”
Johansen showed remorse on Sunday for his errant stick that went unpenalized. Replays showed he leaned into his stick while it was lodged in Kuemper’s mask, but it could have been natural movement from battling for position with Nathan MacKinnon in front of the crease.
“Got real sick to my stomach there, just from looking back and seeing him skating to the bench and then dropping,” Johansen told reporters.
“It’s not a good feeling. Obviously, I hope everyone knows there was zero intention of, ever, something like that happening. Just a freak accident. Definitely put a smile on my face, hearing that it could just be a little scratch and some swelling. So I was really happy to hear that. I didn’t like seeing him go down.”
Footnotes. Bednar, per usual, declined to discuss any possible lineup changes for Game 4. The Avs will have a morning skate at Bridgestone Arena. … Colorado’s four power-play goals in Game 3 were one shy of the club playoff record of five set on April 24, 1997, against the Blackhawks. The Avs are 6-for-14 (42.9%) on the power play in the series. … Colorado is 5-0 in a series when winning the first three games. … MacKinnon has a series-high four goals and has scored in each of the three games, becoming the first Avalanche player to begin the playoffs with a three-game goal streak since Claude Lemieux from April 16-20, 1997. Cale Makar had three assists in Game 3, increasing his career points-per-game average to 1.00, the fourth-highest all-time among NHL defensemen (min. 15 GP) behind Hall of Famers Bobby Orr (1.24), Brian Leetch (1.02) and Paul Coffey (1.01).
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