Oilers goaltender Mike Smith to start Game 2, Avalanche counterpart Darcy Kuemper out

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DENVER — Mike Smith will be back in the crease for the Edmonton Oilers in Game 2 of the Western Conference final.

Colorado counterpart Darcy Kuemper, meanwhile, is out with an upper-body injury and won't dress.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar made the confirmation following Thursday's morning skate that his No. 1 goaltender won't play after leaving partway through the second period of Colorado's wild 8-6 victory to open the series.

That means Pavel Francouz will get the nod with Colorado looking to go up 2-0 in the third-round series.

On the other side, Edmonton bench boss Jay Woodcroft said Smith would start despite getting the hook in Game 1. The 40-year-old allowed six goals on 25 shots before being replaced by Mikko Koskinen.

Woodcroft wouldn't commit to his starter on Wednesday, but decided to go back to the well with Smith despite Koskinen looking sharp in making 18 stops in relief.

Francouz allowed three goals on 21 shots in place of Kuemper, who took a couple pucks up high before informing the Avalanche he couldn't continue Tuesday.

The 31-year-old Francouz was also pressed into action in the first round when Kuemper took a stick to the eye against the Nashville Predators

"We have a lot of confidence in Frankie," Bednar said. "He's played really well for us over the last few years. Stepping into the situation in the Nashville series, he did a great job for us. And coming in the other night, he did a nice job for us.

"We're completely confident that he can get the job done."

Woodcroft was asked what has allowed Smith to rebound so well after poor performances. He also lost the Oilers' other Game 1s in these playoffs, including a 9-6 defeat to the Calgary Flames where he was pulled, but came back with a pair of strong showings to even both series 1-1.

"I don't think you have the career that he has unless you're able to have a short memory," Woodcroft said. "He's a true pro in his approach to the game, the way he treats himself, recovers and resets."

The West final shifts to Edmonton for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2022.

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Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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