Kadri pots OT winner in return from injury as Avs push Bolts to brink in Stanley Cup final
Colorado forward plays for 1st time since June 4 following thumb injury
😶😙😟 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 victory in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final and move the Avalanche within a win of their first championship in over two decades.
😶😙😟 Without specifically saying Tampa Bay felt Colorado had too many men on the ice for the winning goal, Lightning coach Jon Cooper suggested the goal should not have been allowed.
😶😙😟 "We're all in this together. Players, coaches, refs, everybody. But this one is going to sting much more than others," Cooper said.
😶😙😟 "It's going to be hard for me to speak. ... I'll speak with you [Thursday]. You're going to see what I mean when you see the winning goal," Cooper added. "And my heart breaks for the players. Because we probably still should be playing."
😶😙😟 WATCH | Should Kadri's goal have counted?:
😶😙😟 The NHL released a statement saying the penalty is a judgement call that can be made by the on-ice officials. Each of the four officials said they did not see a too many men on the ice situation on 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 in on Andrei Vasilevskiy and slipped a shot under the goaltender's right arm to give Colorado a 3-1 series lead.
😶😙😟 "That was a huge win. A resilient win," said Kadri, who had been sidelined since being injured during Game 3 of the Western Conference final against Edmonton.
😶😙😟 "I've been waiting for this my whole life," the Colorado centre added. "I figured it was time to join the party."
😶😙😟 WATCH | Kadri's overtime winner in Game 4:
😶😙😟 The Avalanche outshot the Lightning 11-3 in the extra period. Vasilevskiy stopped Logan O'Connor on a breakaway, and Colorado had a shot clang off the post and another hit the crossbar before Kadri ended it.
😶😙😟 Game 5 is Friday night in Denver, where Colorado won the first two games of the series and are 7-2 this postseason.
😶😙😟 Anthony Cirelli scored 36 seconds into the game and Victor Hedman also scored in regulation for the Lightning. They took a 2-1 lead into the third period.
😶😙😟 Darcy Kuemper, pulled from Game 3 after giving up five goals in a 6-2 loss, stopped 37 shots and had an assist of the winning goal for the Avalanche.
😶😙😟 Vasilevskiy finished with 35 saves. He has rebounded from allowing 11 goals in Games 1 and 2 to limit the high-scoring Avalanche to five 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 1980-83. The Avalanche last hoisted the Cup in 2001.
😶😙😟 The Lightning have rebounded from playing poorly in Games 1 and 2 to make it interesting by neutralizing Colorado's speed, limiting the Avalanche's scoring opportunities and turning up the pressure on Kuemper, who was barely tested when he faced just 16 shots in a 7-0 blowout in Game 2.
😶😙😟 MacKinnon's first goal of the series — 12th of the playoffs — erased Colorado's early deficit at 5:17 of the second period. The Avalanche pulled even 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 he was boarded by Evander Kane in Game 3 of Colorado's sweep of Edmonton in the Western Conference final.
😶😙😟 Kane received a major penalty and was suspended a game.
😶😙😟 Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar assisted on MacKinnon's goal, giving both of them 20 this postseason — a franchise record for a single playoff year. Peter Stastny had 19 with Quebec in 1985.