Avalanche’s Kuemper leaves Game 3 after stick pokes through mask

Colorado Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper was forced to leave Game 3 against the Nashville Predators after taking an errant stick to the face from Predators forward Ryan Johansen.

A scary situation emerged in Nashville Saturday afternoon when Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper went down with an eye injury after an opponent’s stick poked through his face mask in Game 3 of the first-round matchup.

With less than a minute remaining in the first period, Predators forward Ryan Johansen was engaged in a net-from battle with Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon when the blade of his stick went through the space in or near the cat’s eye of Kuemper’s mask and into the goalie’s eye area. Kuemper went down immediately, ripping off his mask in obvious distress. Medical staff tended to him right away before quickly helping him off the ice.

Backup Pavel Francouz replaced Kuemper to close out the period and was also in net to start the second. The Avalanche later announced Kuemper would not return to the game.

Following the game, a 7-3 victory for Colorado that gives them a commanding 3-0 series lead, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar confirmed that Kuemper did in fact suffer an eye injury and indicated it’s not as serious as initially feared.

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“He got evaluated right away and by the time we went back out, we had information it wasn’t going to be too serious,” Bednar said. “Serious enough for him not be able to come back, but at least he’s able to see and do all that so that made us all feel better I think.”

Bednar told reporters the starter had some swelling, but it’s possible he could be back in net for Game 4 Monday night.

With a file from The Associated Press

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