Nazem Kadri and J.T. Compher scored 10 seconds apart in the third period, Philipp Grubauer stopped 14 shots and the Colorado Avalanche opened the Stanley Cup playoffs with a 3-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday.
Grubauer made the saves when he had to for his second career playoff shutout and Kadri broke a scoreless tie by punching in a rebound on a power play with 7 minutes left.
The Avalanche broke it open from there.
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Compher scored on a backhanded rebound and Mikko Rantanen made it three goals in 1:23 to give Colorado the lead in the best-of-seven series heading into Game 2 on Friday.
Kuemper stopped 152 shots in four games against Nashville in the Stanley Cup qualifiers and was superb again, making several spectacular saves to keep the Coyotes in it. He finished with 37 saves, but the Coyotes generated little on offence.
Arizona benefited when when the NHL expanded the post-season bubbles to 12 teams per conference and took advantage, knocking off Nashville 3-1 in the Stanley Cup qualifiers. Kuemper was superb, stopping 152 shots, and the Coyotes had production throughout the lineup, with 16 players notching at least a point, 11 scoring a goal.
The Avalanche presented a much bigger problem.
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The No. 2 seed in the West, Colorado is one of the NHL’s most dynamic scoring teams, led by Hart Trophy finalist Nathan MacKinnon, and has scoring depth across its lines.
The Coyotes thrive in the rope-a-dope, though, and escaped the first period with a scoreless tie.
Arizona had some better stretches in the second period, yet had to be bailed out by numerous difficult saves by Kuemper to keep it scoreless while being outshot 16-4.
Colorado finally wore down the Coyotes in the third period, turning a tight game into a runaway in a span of 83 seconds.