The Colorado Avalanche are on the brink of their first Stanley Cup title since 2001, thanks to Nazem Kadri’s overtime goal.
Kadri scored at 12:02 of the extra period to give Colorado a 3-2 win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and put the Avalanche within a win of their first championship in more than two decades.
Without specifically saying that Tampa Bay felt Colorado had too many men on the ice for the game-winning goal, Lightning coach Jon Cooper suggested the goal should not have been allowed.
“We’re all in this together. Players, coaches, referees, everyone. But this one is going to hurt a lot more than others,” Cooper said.
“It’s going to be hard for me to talk… I’ll talk to you [Thursday]. You’ll see what I mean when you see the winning goal,” Cooper added. “And my heart breaks for the players. Because we probably should still be playing.”
This is the most damning footage I have seen so far.
When Nazem Kadri (the game-winning scorer) jumps onto the ice, MacKinnon takes over 5 seconds to get back to the bench and is clearly over 5 feet away. pic.twitter.com/9ede4C6ZCU
The NHL released a statement saying the penalty is a judgment call for officials on the ice to make. Each of the four umpires said they didn’t see too many men on the ice in the winning play. The call is not subject to video review.
Back in the lineup after being sidelined since June 4 with a thumb injury, Kadri skated over Andrei Vasilevskiy and slipped a shot under the goalkeeper’s right arm to give Colorado a 3-1 lead in the Serie.
“That was a big win. A tough win,” said Kadri, who had been sidelined since being injured during Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against Edmonton.
“I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” the Colorado center added. “I thought it was time to join the party.”
CLOCK | Kadri’s overtime winner in Game 4:
The Avalanche outscored the Lightning 11-3 in overtime. Vasilevskiy stopped Logan O’Connor on a breakaway, and Colorado hit the post and another hit the crossbar before Kadri finished it off.
Game 5 is Friday night in Denver, where Colorado won the first two games of the series and is 7-2 this postseason.
Anthony Cirelli scored 36 seconds into the game and Victor Hedman also scored in regulation time for the Lightning. They took a 2-1 lead in the third period.
Darcy Kuemper, retired from Game 3 after allowing five goals in a 6-2 loss, stopped 37 shots and had an assist on the game-winner for the Avalanche.
Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves. He has recovered from allowing 11 goals in Games 1 and 2 to limit the high-scoring Avalanche to five in the past two games.
The Lightning are trying to become the first team to win at least three straight Stanley Cup titles since the New York Islanders won four in a row from 1980-1983. The Avalanche last lifted the Cup in 2001.
The Lightning bounced back from playing poorly in Games 1 and 2 to make it interesting by neutralizing Colorado’s speed, limiting the Avalanche’s scoring opportunities and increasing the pressure on Kuemper, who was barely tested as he faced just 16 shots in a rout of 7-0. in Game 2.
MacKinnon’s first goal of the series, the 12th of the playoffs, erased Colorado’s opening deficit at 5:17 of the second period. The Avalanche leveled again when Cogliano, assisted by Nico Sturm and Darren Helm, scored on a deflection less than three minutes into the third.
Kadri returned to the lineup after missing four games. He had been out since injuring his thumb when Evander Kane stopped him in Game 3 of Colorado’s sweep of Edmonton in the Western Conference finals.
Kane received a major penalty and was suspended one game.
Mikko Rantanen and Cale Maker assisted on MacKinnon’s goal, giving them both 20 this postseason, a franchise record for a single playoff year. Peter Stastny turned 19 with Quebec in 1985.