NHL

Avs G Kuemper exits after stick hits him in eye

    Kristen Shilton is a national NHL reporter for ESPN.

Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper left Game 3 of the Avalanche’s first-round series against the Nashville Predators on Saturday after taking a stick to the eye.

Kuemper was struck in the final minutes of the first period by Predators forward Ryan Johansen while he battled Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon for position in front of the net. Johansen’s stick blade appeared to slide into Kuemper’s face mask and hit him in the right eye. Kuemper fell to the ice in pain before hurriedly being taken off by the Colorado medical staff.

Pavel Francouz came in to replace Kuemper, who did not return to start the second period. Colorado led 2-1 after the first period and holds a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Kuemper had a terrific season for the Avalanche and had channeled that into a strong opening to the playoffs. Colorado’s starter was 37-12-4 in the regular season with a 2.54 goals-against average and .921 save percentage, fifth best among NHL goalies with at least 50 starts. Through the first two games of the postseason, Kuemper was 2-0-0 with .941 save percentage and 1.40 GAA.

Francouz had appeared in six NHL playoff games prior to Saturday with a 2-4-0 record, .892 save percentage and 3.23 GAA. He has one postseason shutout on his résumé, from a 27-save performance against the Dallas Stars in August 2020.

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