Avalanche take Game 3 and are one win from finals, but suffer huge loss

Jun 4, 2022, 9:58 PM
Nazem Kadri...
Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche haven’t lost on the road yet this postseason, winners of six straight, including Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.

While the Avs won 4-2, the tone was somber postgame, the team knew they suffered a big loss.

Only 66 seconds into Saturday’s game, known goon Evander Kane took a run at Avs forward Nazem Kadri, cross-checking him into the boards from far out. Kadri crumpled to the ice in a ton of pain, eventually being helped off while Kane was sent to the box for a five-minute major penalty. Kadri crashed into the wall with no chance to protect himself, suffering an injury that ended his night.

“I was on the bench, but I don’t like it,” Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “Those are the ones that gives you chills down your spine, and you’re taught from a young age that you don’t do that and especially at that distance from the boards. So a dangerous play.”

Kadri has scored 14 points in 12 contests coming into Game 3, playing some of the best hockey of his 13-year-career.

“He’s out; he’ll be out for the series at least if not longer. That’s the most dangerous play in hockey,” Colorado Head Coach Jared Bednar said. “His role will be filled by committee; that’s how big of a role he plays for us. It’s a big loss for us.”

Stepping up for Kadri in Game 3 was J.T. Compher, who jumped up to the third line. He took a bad tripping penalty halfway through the third just after the Oilers had tied the game at 2-2. But backup goalie Pavel Francouz, who once again got the start for the injured Darcy Kuemper, made a massive save. Another Oilers shot rung iron and then spit out of the zone. Compher sprung out of the box to get behind the Edmonton goal, scoring a soft one on Mike Smith that went down as the game-winner.

“Definitely a roller coaster. Not a good time to take a penalty; unbelievable job by the PK and Frankie,” he said. “Little bit of luck off the post but from the lowest and in the box, and waiting and then able to get one, and that’s the highest for sure.”

Valeri Nichushkin had Colorado’s first two scores, and Mikko Rantanen added an empty-netter. Teams that go up 3-0 are 198-4 in NHL history, and the Avs are yet to lose this postseason on the road. Game 4 is Monday, but the Avs will be without Kadri as the injuries start to pile up. Andre Burakovsky, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Kuemper missed Game 3, while Samuel Girard is already out for the postseason.

Bednar’s definitive answer to the Kadri question has to spur the league office into action. It’s understandable for the refs to hand Kane a big penalty without ejection and leave it to the Department of Player Safety. Without severe punitive action, Kane’s hit, which any 12-year-old knows is a no-no, is now a risk worth taking any time an NHL player sees a star turn his back in a corner. The last thing Colorado will want to see is Kane in there for Game 4 with his season on the line, and if the home team gets down, what the historically speaking hot-head will do to an already banged-up Colorado club.


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