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Game 6 spotlight on Avalanche goalie Darcy Kuemper: “He’s perfectly capable of winning this game single-handedly”

ST. LOUIS — Heading into Game 6 on Friday night at Enterprise Center, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar believes in Darcy Kuemper — despite the goalie’s sub-.900 save percentage in the last two games against the Blues.

Kuemper had a .920 SP in Game 1, .903 in Game 2, and .935 in Game 3. But he allowed three goals on 20 shots (.850) in Game 4 and five goals on 30 shots (.833) in Game 5’s collapse in which Colorado took a 3-0 lead.

Kuemper is trending in the wrong direction. But Bednar said here Friday his entire team played poorly in the third period of Wednesday’s 5-4 overtime loss at Ball Arena, where the Blues rallied to force Game 6.

“He’s the last line of defense, so everyone’s going to look at Darcy. But at the end of the day, was he any different than any other player on our team?” Bednar said after the team’s morning skate. “We didn’t have a good third period, right? He’s no different. I think the goalie is going to put a lot on himself and I’m encouraging him not to. I want him to go play his best performance.

“He’s perfectly capable of winning this game single-handedly.”

Jared Bednar on 4-0 playoff road record and that Game 5 third-period collapse #Avs pic.twitter.com/RinE2DbYBw

— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) May 27, 2022

Based on the morning skate, here is the Avalanche’s’ probable lineup for Game 6:

Forwards

Gabe Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Artturi Lehkonen

Valeri Nichushkin-Nazem Kadri-Mikko Rantanen

Andre Burakovsky-J.T. Compher-Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Andrew Cogliano-Darren Helm-Logan O’Connor

Defensemen

Devon Toews-Cale Makar

Bo Byram-Erik Johnson

Jack Johnson-Josh Manson

Goaltending

Darcy Kuemper

Pavel Francouz

Scratches: Forwards Alex Newhook, Nico Sturm; defensemen Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermid, Sam Girard (injured).

Mikko Rantanen’s only goal in this series was an empty-netter. He’s looking to produce in Game 6 #Avs pic.twitter.com/6sxxfBj0Kc

— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) May 27, 2022

Mikko Rantanen on Nathan MacKinnon’s big Game 5 and Andrew Cogliano on #Avs road success pic.twitter.com/lhTAinJAZt

— Mike Chambers (@MikeChambers) May 27, 2022