After dealing with an equipment issue to start the second period of game one of the Western Conference Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, Darcy Kuemper left the game mid-way through the second period, appearing to be injured (link). Kuemper was replaced by Pavel Francouz in net after the former had gone to the dressing room. According to TNT’s broadcast of the game, Kuemper’s return to this game is considered doubtful, Kuemper having an upper-body injury.
Francouz entering the game marks the fourth goaltender used in this game between the two teams, Edmonton pulling Mike Smith after Colorado scored its sixth goal, replacing him with Mikko Koskinen. This isn’t Francouz’s first action or Kuemper’s first departure of the postseason, as Kuemper was forced to leave game three of Colorado’s first round series against the Nashville Predators after Ryan Johansen’s stick blade appeared to go through his mask and hit him in his eye. Francouz would replace Kuemper then, starting in the series-clinching game four as well, with Kuemper returning for the start of the second round against the St. Louis Blues.
Colorado acquired Kuemper this past offseason to replace the outgoing Philipp Grubauer, who signed with the Seattle Kraken. The new Avalanche goaltender had a solid first season in Colorado, posting a .921 save-percentage and 2.54 goals-against average in 57 regular season games. Despite solid numbers in the playoffs coming into tonight, including a .907 save-percentage and 2.44 goals-against average in nine games, Kuemper has appeared to be shaky at times, including three goals surrendered to the Oilers in the first half of tonight’s game before leaving with injury.
Thus far, the seriousness of Kuemper’s injury is not yet apparent, and there is the potential that the equipment trouble he was dealing with to start the period necessitated him leaving the game altogether. Colorado’s starting netminder had visited the bench several times between whistles in the second period before exiting. Still not an ideal situation, an equipment malfunction would certainly be the preferred outcome for Colorado, who still has two series to win in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup.