DENVER– Darcy Kuemper should be ready for the Colorado Avalanche for the start of the Western Conference second round.
The goaltender missed a 5-3 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 4 of the first round after leaving the first period of Game 3 when the Predators’ stick crossed Ryan Johansen hit him in the right eye through his mask.
Pavel Francouz made 18 saves in relief in a 7-3 win over the Avalanche in Game 3 and made 28 saves in a 5-3 win in Game 4 when Colorado completed the first-round sweep and became the first team to advance to the second round.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Tuesday there was little concern about whether Kuemper, Colorado’s number one goaltender, would be able to play in the second-round opener. .
“No, I don’t think so,” Bednar said. “I think he’ll be fine.”
The Avalanche, the top seed in the Western Conference, will face the winner of the series between the Minnesota Wild and the St. Louis Blues, tied 2-2 in Game 5 on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN360 , TVAS2, BSN, BSWIX, BSMW).
Colorado Captain Gabriel Landeskog said Kuemper was lucky the injury wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
“His morale is good. He looks good,” Landeskog said. “I’m not going to give you the full report, but his eye is at least a bit open. So that’s fine, and he’s got some nice coloring there. I think we all told him on the same night, ‘ Just nice to count your blessings. Could have been bad.
Kuemper won the first two games against Nashville with a 1.63 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in 147:29 of ice time. Francouz is 2-0 with a 2.97 GAA and .902 save percentage in 100:57.
“Proud of how ‘Frankie’ came into Game 3 and closed the door, and Game 4 as well,” Landeskog said. “He played very well. It’s huge to have two goalkeepers of this caliber at this time of year. We will need them to move forward.
This isn’t the first time Kuemper has taken a stick to his face through his mask; on April 2, 2019, with the Arizona Coyotes, Kuemper was helped off the ice with an eye injury after centering the Los Angeles Kings Trevor Lewis‘ following a shot slipping through his cage.
“I know it happened to him once before, and he was lucky again because it wasn’t more serious,” Landeskog said. “It will also be a good opportunity for him to rest and recover.”
The Avalanche will take Wednesday off before resuming training on Thursday.