Colorado Avalanche close on Stanley Cup glory after controversial OT win | NHL

The Colorado Avalanche removed a win from their first Stanley Cup title since 2001 thanks to Nazem Kadri’s overtime goal on Wednesday. Even if the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning doesn’t think it should have counted.

Kadri scored at 12:02 of overtime to give Colorado a 3-2 win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Without specifically saying that Tampa Bay felt Colorado had too many men on the ice to score the winning goal, Lightning coach Jon Cooper suggested the goal should not have been allowed. “We’re all in the same boat. Players, coaches, referees, everyone. But this one will sting a lot more than others,” he said.

“It will be difficult for me to speak… I will speak to you [on Thursday]. You’ll see what I mean when you see the winning goal. And my heart beats for the players. Because we should probably still be playing.”

The NHL released a statement saying the penalty is a verdict that can be administered by officials on the ice. All four officials said they failed to see that there were too many men on the ice during the sweepstakes. The call is not subject to video verification.

After being sidelined since June 4 with a thumb injury, Kadri returned to the lineup, running at Andrei Vasilevskiy and slamming a shot under the keeper’s right arm to give Colorado a 3-1 lead. “That was a huge win. A resilient win,” said Kadri, who had been sidelined since his injury in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against Edmonton.

“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life. I thought it was time to join the party.”

The Avalanche celebrate their victory. Photo: Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI/Getty Images

The Avalanche overtook the Lightning 11-3 in overtime. Vasilevskiy stopped Logan O’Connor from a breakaway attempt and Colorado hit the post with one shot and another off the bar before Kadri finished the shot.

Anthony Cirelli scored 36 seconds into the game and Victor Hedman also scored normally for the Lightning. They went into the third period with a 2-1 lead. Nathan MacKinnon made a power play for Colorado in the second half, and Andrew Cogliano equalized early in the third.

Darcy Kuemper, eliminated from Game 3 after giving up five goals in a 6-2 loss, stopped 37 shots and had an assist on the winning goal for the Avalanche. Vasilevskiy finished the game with 35 saves. He has rebounded after allowing 11 goals in Games 1 and 2 to limit the high-scoring Avalanche to five in the last two games.

The Lightning are attempting to become the first team to win at least three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four straight from 1980–83. The Avalanche last won the Cup in 2001.

The Blitz had bounced back from their poor play in Games 1 and 2 to make it interesting, neutralizing Colorado’s pace, limiting the Avalanche’s scoring chances and increasing the pressure on Kuemper, who was barely tested as he put 16 shots in Game 2 had a 7-0 blowout.

A dejected Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov after the game.
A dejected Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov after the game. Photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports

Cirelli’s goal was the fastest in a Stanley Cup final since 2006, and the Lightning set the tone for another busy night for Kuemper by beating the Avalanche 17-4 in the opening stages. Two of Colorado’s shots came while he was driving outnumbered, killing Tampa Bay’s first power play.

MacKinnon’s first goal of the series – his 12th of the playoffs – erased Colorado’s early deficit at 5:17 of the second period. The Avalanche fired again when Cogliano, assisted by Nico Sturm and Darren Helm, scored in the third minute from a deflection less than three minutes into the game.

Game 5 takes place in Denver on Friday night, where Colorado won the first two games of the series and leads this postseason 7-2.

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