Lawson Crosue finally put it out of reach with an empty-net goal with 5 seconds left, giving the Coyotes a huge sigh of relief and a bit of life heading into Game 4 on Monday.
“They had the puck a lot tonight, let’s be honest,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “I thought we did a good job of our prevent defense.”
The Avalanche pressured the Coyotes just as they had in a Game 1 victory. They didn’t end up with the same result, thanks to Kuemper and 27 blocked shots by Arizona.
Francouz stopped 19 shots after Philipp Grubauer started the series’ first two games.
“We’re going to have to find a way to get in Kuemper’s eyes a little bit more because if sees it, he’s stopping it,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said. “He had a great night tonight.”
Colorado took advantage of Arizona’s tentative play with three goals in the third period to win Game 1. The Coyotes were far more aggressive in Game 2, yet the Avalanche won 3-2 on Burakovsky’s goal with 2:53 left in regulation.
Arizona had the early buzz going again in Game 3 and capitalized early when Stepan one-timed a shot from just outside the crease on a pass from behind by Clayton Keller.
Colorado picked up the pressure after falling into a hole for the first time in the series, but Kuemper was sharp, turning away a franchise postseason-record 20 shots in the first period.
“A lot of work, but it kind of keeps you in a rhythm,” Kuemper said.
The Avs continued the attack in the second period and tied it when Burakovky’s shot caromed off Arizona defenseman Alex Goligoski’s leg past Kuemper, right after the second of consecutive power plays.
Arizona snatched the momentum back with 34 seconds left in the second period, taking a 2-1 lead on Richardson’s wrister from the left circle past Francouz.
The Coyotes spent most of the third period in their own end, but Kuemper bailed them out time and again with spectacular saves before the two empty-net goals sealed it.
“Obviously, we’d love to find the back of the net with all the chances we had today, especially in the third period,” Rantanen said. “It’s just one of those days where you just have to find the net.”
Notes: Arizona was without leading scorer Nick Schmlatz for the seventh straight game due to a head injury suffered in an exhibition game. … The Avalanche played their 200th playoff game since moving to Denver in 1995. … Colorado C Vladislav Namestrikov was out after leaving the second period of Game 2 with an injury, but RW Joonas Donskoi returned after missing a game. … Arizona is 0 for 9 on the power play in the series after failing in three chances with the man advantage in Game 3.
Game 4 is Monday in Edmonton.
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