NHL

Stanley Cup: Avalanche take 3-1 series lead after Nazem Kadri's overtime winner

By Sports Desk June 23, 2022

The Colorado Avalanche are now one game away from winning the Stanley Cup after a 3-2 overtime win on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Wednesday's Game 4.

Tampa Bay were riding high after working their way back into the series with a dominant 6-2 showing in Game 3, but they now trail 3-1 in the series in their quest for three consecutive championships, with Game 5 headed back to Denver.

The Lightning were in control early as Anthony Cirelli scored the opening period's only goal, just 36 seconds into the action, dominating the opening period to force Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper into 16 first-period saves. The visitors could only muster four shots on goal in comparison.

The Avalanche fought back into the contest in the second period, restoring parity thanks to Nathan MacKinnon's power-play goal, before Victor Hedman put the Lightning back in front heading into the third.

An early goal from Colorado's Andrew Cogliano put things even again at 2-2, which would hold through regulation and eight minutes of overtime until Nazem Kadri was slipped through by Artturi Lehkonen.

Kadri's shot deflected off Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy's stick and nestled into the top of the net in a hard-to-view position, with the Colorado bench eventually exploding into celebrations once they realised it was in the goal.

After the game, Kadri was asked if he knew he had scored with his winning shot.

"Not really," he admitted. "I just tried to make a little move there and go far-side, and I'm assuming that's where it went. 

"I don't know if it found a hole, but it was a bit of a delayed reaction. I thought he made the save for a second, and the next thing you know people are sprinting towards me – it's a good feeling."

Playing in his first career Stanley Cup Final game in his return from thumb surgery, Kadri said he was determined to make it count.

"I've been waiting for this my whole life, so I figured I'd stop waiting and just try to join the party," he said.

"I'm just grateful I'm able to be in this position, and with this group of guys – you couldn't have written a better story.

"[Closing out the series] is going to be tough – the last one is the hardest one to win, everybody will tell you that.

"They're a great team over there, so we're expecting a good effort from them."

Avalanche star MacKinnon was complimentary of the efforts of Vasilevskiy – who denied a number of great chances in overtime before eventually conceding – but said he feels the right team won.

"[Vasilevskiy] was awesome – but it just felt like a matter of time, we really tilted the ice," he said.

"It just felt like we deserved it, we really outplayed them in overtime. We had a shaky first period, but other than that we were very solid.

"Obviously thrilled with the win, but short memory, we've got to move on and get ready for Friday night."

Acknowledging the extra fanfare that comes with a potential close-out game at home, MacKinnon said the key would be to not get caught up in the commotion.

"It starts with blocking out all the 'BS' that comes along with it," he said.

"Obviously we've got family and friends in town, we know what's going to be in the building, but have to stick to what's got us to this point.

"That's our great process – we put that before anything and we feel like the result will get done.

"Nothing changes, we have to stick to our game plan that we've been doing all season. I know it's cliche, but it's true.

"We're feeling good, we're going to be coming in attacking and aggressive, and hopefully get that win."

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