TAMPA, Fla. – The Colorado Avalanche pulled goaltender Darcy Kuemper from Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after the Tampa Bay Lightning took a 5-2 lead midway through the second period Monday night.
Kuemper allowed five goals on 21 shots. He was replaced by backup Pavel Francouz as the Lightning went on to win 6-2.
The Avalanche lead the series 2-1, and were coming off a 7-0 rout of the Lightning in Game 2 on Saturday. Kuemper saw only 16 shots in that outing while the Avalanche thoroughly dominated Tampa Bay. Game 3 marked the first time Colorado has trailed the Lightning in this series.
Kuemper received the nod over the French as Colorado’s starter for the series despite not having played in more than two weeks leading up to the opener. He had suffered an upper-body injury in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Edmonton Oilers, and the French stepped in to backstop Colorado to four straight wins.
Still, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar went back to Kuemper for Game 1. Kuemper had been Colorado’s incumbent during a strong regular season (37-12-4, .921 SV% 2.54 GAA). Francouz was a great complement there (15-5-1, .916 SV%, 2.55 GAA) and has been the better netminder statistically filling in for Kuemper during the postseason (6-0-0, .906 SV% and 2.86 GAA vs Kuemper at 8-2-0, .901 SV% and 2.44 GAA).
Bednar said before Game 3 he thought Kuemper wasn’t at his best in Game 1 following the long layoff but played well enough in Colorado’s 4-3 OT victory. When Tampa Bay pushed back to dig out of its 2-0 series deficit, Kuemper clearly didn’t have the answers Bednar hoped for.