Colorado Avalanche withdraws Darcy Kuemper from Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final, no compromise on goaltender status for Game 4 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. — The Colorado Avalanche face a critical decision in the crease after the boot darcy kumper was pulled from a 6-2 loss to the tampa bay lightning in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night.

Kuemper allowed five goals on 22 shots before getting the hook midway through the second period. he was replaced by pavel francouzwho made nine saves on 10 shots.

The Avalanche leads the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is here on Wednesday, and Colorado coach Jared Bednar didn’t put his weight behind Kuemper to start that matchup.

“He didn’t have a good night, you know?” Bednar said when he was asked about his trust in Kuemper. “Neither did our team. We win as a team, we lose as a team. Lump it in with everyone else. It just wasn’t as good as it needed to be.”

Pressed further on what will be decided on the Game 4 starter, Bednar added: “The same thing that is always made in the decision.”

Colorado was flying high heading into Game 3 after executing a nearly perfect plan to defeat Tampa Bay 7-0 in Game 2 on Saturday.

Kuemper saw just 16 shots in that outing, which the Avs completely dominated. Game 3 marked the first time Colorado fell behind by a game in this series, and marked their first road loss of the postseason.

Kuemper got the nod over Francouz as Colorado’s starter for the Cup final despite a losing second-round series against St. Louis and not playing in more than two weeks before the first game against the Lightning. He suffered an upper-body injury in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against Edmonton, and Francouz stepped in to back Colorado up for four straight wins.

Still, Bednar returned to Kuemper for Game 1. He had been a Colorado starter for a solid regular season (37-12-4, .921 save percentage, 2.54 goals-against average). Francouz was a great complement during the regular season (15-5-1, .916 SV%, 2.55 GAA) and has been the best goalkeeper statistically during the playoffs (6-0-0, .906 SV% and 2.86 GAA vs. Kuemper at 8-2-0, .901 SV% and 2.44 GAA).

If Kuemper starts Game 4, his teammates believe he can get back into shape.

“Totally confident [he can bounce back],” joseph manson said. “He’s in the National Hockey League for a reason. He’s going to bounce back.”

As Bednar pointed out, the Avalanche didn’t play at their usual level on Monday night. To begin with, Colorado was shorthanded up front with Andre Burakovsky sidelined with an apparent hand injury sustained while blocking a shot in Game 2. nazem kadri he was also left out with a broken thumb.

Valery Nichushkin he appeared to score the game’s first goal in the opening period, but Tampa Bay successfully challenged for offside to keep the game 0–0. Lightning coach Jon Cooper took so long to decide whether to review the play that the action almost resumed, and Bednar didn’t agree with that.

“It was long,” he said of the process. “I don’t know what else to tell you. It was probably three times longer than what we usually get.”

Cooper agreed, calling in his own postgame news conference for the NHL to make the review process more efficient.

Colorado got its icebreaker from gabriel landeskog into a power play target instead. It was the Avalanche’s ninth straight goal in the series, since the end of Game 1.

But that’s when Tampa Bay started scoring in bunches.

antonio cirelli Y Palate of Ondrej put the Lightning up 2-1 after 20 minutes, the first lead Tampa Bay had ever had in the Cup finals. nick paul, who was injured late in the first period but returned for the second, took advantage of a Manson toss early in that frame to make it 3-1. Paul left the ice right after and didn’t take another turn.

“The execution under pressure tonight was not great,” Bednar said. “I think we had to make some plays that we didn’t. I think in some of the innings, we got pushed around a little bit. We got a little cute with the puck where I thought in Game 1 and Game 2, we were just moving it. I think obviously that was his best game of the series, and it wasn’t ours.”

Landeskog scored the Avs’ second goal on a subsequent power play for his first multi-goal playoff outing since Game 3 of Colorado’s first-round series at Nashville.

Steven Stammos Y garnet pat he scored four minutes apart to put Tampa Bay up by three and end Kuemper’s night. corey perry capped the scoring with a power play marker.

It was a bad night for Colorado, but that doesn’t mean the series was spoiled for them.

“It’s the Stanley Cup Final. We’re not expecting a sweep.” Nathan Mackinnon said. “This is fun. This is awesome. Good or bad, we’re not trading places with anyone. We’ve waited a long time for this. We’re playing the best right now. We’re playing the best team, they’ve won back to back [Stanley Cups]. We knew they were too proud to leave. We still feel good. We feel good with our team from start to finish.”

In the lead up to playing Lightning, the Avalanche repeatedly said that they hoped to one day emulate their status as repeat contenders. Right now, Colorado can follow a Lightning page on how to recover from disappointment.

“We enter [every] tough game. I think that’s our mentality,” MacKinnon said. “Even in the third [period], we played very well. We weren’t going to give up. Obviously, [we didn’t score] goals or anything, but I think that’s what we’ve learned. Like Tampa, they didn’t hesitate to lose to us in Game 2, and we’re not going to do the same tonight.”

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