Avalanche lose Nazem Kadri to vicious hit before defeating Edmonton 4-2 to pull within one victory of a Stanley Cup Final berth –

June 4, 2022; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Colorado Avalanche left winger JT Compher (37) celebrates a goal with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram (4) in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers in game three of the Western Conference Finals of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports

EDMONTON, Alberta — Nazem Kadri left Game 3 after a brutal goal from Evander Kane in the Avalanche’s 4-2 win at Rogers Place.

Kadri was hit from the blindside by a trailing Kane just 1:06 into the contest and went hard into the rink. He stayed on the ice for a long time before running away of his own volition. Avs coach Jared Bednar confirmed after the game that Kadri will miss the rest of the series.

“He’ll be out for at least the series, if not longer,” Bednar said. “The hit is the most dangerous game in ice hockey. He sets him upside down from behind, eight feet from the boards. I’ll leave it at that.”

Kane was handed a five-minute major for boarding but was not knocked out of the game.

“I don’t like that,” said Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog about the goal. “These are the ones that give you chills and you learn from a young age not to do that, especially this distance from the boards. It’s a dangerous game. I don’t know what else to say. I’m sure they’ll check it out.”

Listen to Kadri Hurt as Avs Take 3-0 Series Lead on Spreaker.

Without Kadri, who was already trailing the Avs by a goal, Colorado came back late in the third period thanks to two goals from Valeri Nichushkin and an incredible winner from center JT Compher to take a 3-0 lead in a stranglehold on the Oilers in the finals of the Western Conference.

Compher had received a minor penalty for tripping and was just coming out of the box when the Oilers hit the post on one end and the puck found its way to center ice. Compher took teammate Andrew Cogliano’s puck and blasted it through goaltender Mike Smith’s five-hole to put the Avs back in front. It was his sixth of the playoffs and second game winner.

“I figured it was his pads how he moves,” Compher said of his goal. “It took me a second to get there. It was nice to see when I finally saw it online.”

The Avalanche will likely need more of these from Compher in Kadri’s absence. Compher has been on fire since Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues in the second round.

“His role will be filled by the committee,” Bednar said of Kadri’s absence for at least Game 4 on Monday night. “That’s how big he is for us as players. It could be one guy one night and another the next. I’m comfortable with that. Obviously it’s a huge loss, but it’s beyond our control. It is what it is.”

Colorado improved to 6-0 away and has an opportunity to put the series away on Monday in Edmonton.

“We’ve got five guys that are connected offensively and defensively and you don’t have to please anyone,” said Avs superstar Nathan MacKinnon. “We’re here to hopefully make it boring and gross and just play a good two-way game. When we are out there is no show.”

Connor McDavid scored the early goal for Edmonton just 36 seconds into the contest. But just like in Game 2, Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz knocked out the Oilers for most of the evening. Francouz stopped 27 shots and only handed Ryan McLeod a goal early in the third half in a game he likely wanted back. The win was his fifth of the playoffs and puts the Avs just one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals.

“I thought Franky was outstanding. What you don’t want to see is the equalizer, from a distance, from a rush,” Bednar said. “But he more than made up for that in the crucial moments of the game to keep us ahead.

“In the first period they hit us really hard five against five and we were able to weather that storm and a big part of that is Frankie. He fights in there and gave us the win.”

Francouz was particularly solid in the penalty shootout, stopping McDavid with a sweeping save during the power play chance right in front of Compher’s goal.

“It’s a big stop at a crucial point in the game,” said Landeskog. “They are dangerous on the power play. I thought we did a pretty good job keeping them out for the most part and this game in particular is a broken game from the top. Barrie breaks his stick and it kinda bounces off EJ and goes to McDavid and lands right on his tape. Frankie is quick and got over there and made a great stop.

“That shows some strength to be able to reset after they tied it the way they did and to be able to reset and come back to that. That was definitely an important stop.”

Kane’s hit on Kadri sucked the energy out of an Oilers bench that was soaring after McDavid’s early tally. The Avs had seven shots on the long power play opportunity but couldn’t beat Smith. They then failed to capitalize on three more full-length power plays, giving them zero goals with the man advantage after 11 minutes.

“I think we’ll get a lot of chances. These guys, especially on the top unit, are so skillful and continue to have good shots, lots of shots,” Compher said. “I don’t want to speak for them but we have so much faith in these guys that they will get the job done no matter the situation or if they’re hot or cold. We trust these guys.”

Smith excelled in goal despite the loss for the Oilers. After two brutal performances in Denver, the 40-year-old goaltender made 39 stops, including a desperate save on Nicushkin in the second half to keep him from completing the hat-trick. Smith was strong during Colorado’s 12-minute surge midway through the second period to hold the Oilers on goal ahead of the third period.

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Aarif Deen is our beat reporter for Colorado Avalanche. He streams Avs games live from the Ball Arena and attends daily practices, media availability and other events related to the Avs. He is also the co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your Favorite Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports after completing his bachelor’s degree in journalism and his master’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Prior to Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as Assistant Sports Information Director.

Follow him on Twitter @runwriteAarif

Listen to Kadri Hurt as Avs Take 3-0 Series Lead on Spreaker.

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